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Johann Christoph Bach: Welt, gute Nacht
This album was recorded live at Cadogan Hall in 2009. It features internationally acclaimed singers, including Matthew Brook, Peter Harvey and Katharine Fuge. It is packaged in a hard back book similar to our other releases. It contains a 48 pages booklet with original notes by Richard Campbell (to whose memory the recording is dedicated), and texts in German, English and French.
The live concert was billed “Six funerals and a wedding”: the pieces evoke the dark theme of grief, as was fashionable in 17th century Lutheran Germany; though the last track “Meine Freundin” is a lighter amorous dialogue The music on this album is in turn dark, poignant, humane and witty It features choral music (motets) as well as solo arias and laments, and two dialogues Johann Christoph Bach (1642-1703) - not to be confused with Johann Christian Bach, was Johann Sebastian Bach’s older cousin. A respected composer in his lifetime, he greatly influenced JS Bach’s music making.
“It's as elegantly poised as you'd expect from Gardiner, with the eight singers accompanied in sombre period arrangements by the English Baroque Soloists, in which the violas da gamba seem to weep.” The Independent, 9th September 2011 ***
“His music has a less complex surface than the more familiar oeuvre of Johann Sebastian: it invites contemplation...With soloists of the calibre of Katherine Fuge and Peter Harvey, John Eliot Gardiner and his ensemble have uncovered a treasure trove. Their performances communicate not just skill, but delight in the world behind the music.” Financial Times, 17th September 2011 ****
“This older Bach’s spare textures and bold chromatic effects make him a highly individual voice in this penitential but deeply moving music. Peter Harvey’s bass and Claire Wilkinson’s mezzo shine out from this “choir” of soloists, but Gardiner is the driving force.” Sunday Times, 25th September 2011
“This fascinating collection, based on a concert that John Eliot Gardiner conducted at Cadogan Hall, London, in 2009, covers a good range of Johann Christoph's surviving output. The two five-part motets are intense, slightly dour affairs...the two arias are also haunted by death, though, like most of the works here, the harmonic richness of the music makes them seem anything but lugubrious.” The Guardian, 22nd September 2011 ***
“CPE Bach called Christoph "the great and expressive composer", and here the marvellous Lament (the excellent Matthew Brook) and quirky Dialogue (with its endlessly varied Chaconne) amply bear this out in superb performances by Gardiner's consort. Christian's unusual Requiem is no less striking in its force, but more conventional in its language.” The Observer, 9th October 2011
“Vocal soloists and instrumentalists alike bring JC Bach's intense Lutheran feeling to life, each piece taking the lsitener on an emotional and musical journey. Vocal lines are beautifully and cleanly phrased, with a lovely overall balance of voices...Gardiner's interpretations are as beautifully researched, judged and executed as always.” Classic FM Magazine, December 2011 ****
“Bach of any generation from Gardiner's eminently engaged and engaging forces is self-recommending; yet for its rarity value alone Welt, gute Nacht is as important a release as that of a B minor Mass or St Matthew Passion.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2011 ****
“Nearly every piece has a singular gesture or feature that captures the imagination...The vocal soloists acquit themselves well in music that demands utter commitment, although just occasionally the very last degree of refinement and control eludes them...In a cappella formation, however, they offer some of the disc's most memorable moments” Gramophone Magazine, December 2011
“There's not a single weak link here: even the simplest choral harmonizations are loving crafted and the long 25-minute wedding dialogue never flags for a second. Gardiner and his team sound as though they love this music, delivering dramatically inflected performances, which, partly becuase they are live, have that extra edge of emotional and rhetorical reach. The recording is one of the best I've heard on the Soli Deo Gloria label.” International Record Review, November 2011
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Bach - Böhm: Music for Weddings and other Festivities
Clematis, Leonardo García Alarcón
Let us once more immerse ourselves in the musical life of Eisenach as it was at the end of the 1670s. One Sunday afternoon, after having played for the services in their respective churches, the cousins Johann Ambrosius Bach and Johann Christoph Bach were sitting in a Bierstube, each with a mug of beer and a meerschaum pipe. A moment of relaxation, with word games, laughter and a discussion about Johann Christoph’s coming marriage. There would naturally be music for the wedding, with a cantata for the church service at the very least. That particular Sunday morning’s cantata had been based on texts from the Song of Solomon — not Böhm’s, of course, because Böhm had only been born in 1661. The sensual and at times erotic flavour of the words amuses them and, after several beers and pipefuls of tobacco, they have an idea for a secular cantata for the festivities that will follow the wedding ceremony. Christoph will compose the music, whilst Ambrosius will put together the text and instructions for its performance. Even though we do not know how this cantata was performed, its score has survived complete with all of its the puzzles and riddles.
The sublime chaconne in which the beloved proclaims her love and in which the violin line (as demanded by Ambrosius) symbolises her dreams and desires is both sensual and strong, the image of love itself and its blend of tenderness and strength: it is indeed a love scene. The two other sections are more theatrical in character: an introduction in dialogue form that describes the clandestine meetings of the lovers and a finale that is an open invitation to the festivities and to the food and drink that will be served. But how can we convey something of the atmosphere of such festivities? It is difficult to imagine a performance that is based on the text alone. The musicians of the Clematis seize the opportunity to get into the spirit of the occasion: halfway through the wedding breakfast they get out their instruments, push the tables together and share the scores that have been placed wherever there is room — on the edge of a table, on a chair — and the party begins with Esset und trinket. The wine, however, has been flowing for some time and the tempi get slower... All of the above is of course accompanied by unceasing thanks to God for his gift of life! Johann Sebastian Bach must have heard talk of such festivities and their celebratory cantatas (the scores of which he knew) from his early childhood. It must have been very much in the same spirit that he was inspired to compose, heaven only knows for what occasion, the incredible Quodlibet that seems to be so out of place amongst all his other works. If, however we carefully examine how Bach composed his secular (and even a few sacred) cantatas, we can see that he had a great instinct for theatre and for amusement. Certain passages in his biography even reveal that he was not a man who would turn down a good glass of wine!
“this disc brings together music largely influenced by the Song of Songs, which was extremely popular amongst Catholic and Lutheran composers of the time...Mariana Flores sings her divisions with liquid authority over the sensitive organ’s warm registrations...[Meine Freundin] is a richly decorative and engaging one, revealing JC to be a forward looking composer, and one with impeccable technical control.” MusicWeb International, January 2013
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Beloved & Beautiful
Hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, a collection of love songs grew up. Under the title of the “Most beautiful of songs”, they found a home in the Old Testament—it was Martin Luther who first gave them the name of “Song of Songs”—and since that time they have inspired and fascinated a vast number of theologians, mystics, philosophers, poets, painters, and, last but not least, composers.
Particularly during the Baroque period, these poetic, sensual, vividly descriptive texts were set over and over again to music, and they inspired librettists to expand on the original texts. Some of the most beautiful settings of the Song of Songs were produced in Germany.
Founded in 1921, The Netherlands Bach Society is the oldest Early Music ensemble in the Netherlands, and possibly in the whole world. Yet along with the musicians, its artistic director Jos van Veldhoven is still continually in search of contemporary ways of presenting this music, whether it be the traditional performances of the St. Matthew Passion in Naarden, other works by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) or music by his predecessors, successors, contemporaries and fellow spirits.
Beloved & Beautiful is the fourth cd in a series of songs, carefully chosen and combined because of the themes they represent. The programmes are often compiled in an original way and thus give a refreshing view of the various musical styles from Schütz/Monteverdi to Haydn/Mozart, as well as of the central composer Bach himself. The flexibility of the ensemble makes it possible to perform works from the secular and sacred repertoires in a great variety of combinations of musicians.
“the performance maintains the high standards established by the NBS and van Veldhoven in the Passions and Oratorio. Classical CD of the week The Sunday Times
“Dutch soprano Johannette Zomer leads a fine team of soloists with the society singers under their eminence grise, Jos van Veldhoven, in an ethereal version of this magnificent work, recorded with crystal clarity.” The Observer
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Cantatas by members of the Bach family
Bach, G C:
Seihe, wie fein und lieblich - 'Geburtstagkantate'
Ich danke dir, Gott Kantate zum 17. Sonntag nach Trinitatis
Bach, J C'ph:
Meine Freundin, du bist schön
Es erhub sich ein Streit Kantate zum Michaelissonntag
Ach, daß ich Wassers genug hätte
Herr, wende dich und sei mir gnädig Dialogue
Wie bist du denn, O Gott
Die Furcht des Herren Kantate zu einem Ratswechsel
Bach, J M I:
Ach, bleib bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ
Auf, laßt uns den Herren loben
Es ist ein großer Gewinn
Liebster Jesu, hör mein Flehen Dialog zum Sonntag Reminiscere
Ach, wie sehnlich wart' ich der Zeit
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