Cantatas: Nos. 43;
John Eliot Gardiner, cond;
Lenneke Ruiten (sop);
Meg Bragle (alt);
Andrew Tortise (ten);
Dietrich Henschle (bs); Monteverdi Ch; English Baroque Soloists (period instruments)
SOLI DEO GLORIA 185 (77:08
Text and Translation)
Here’s a welcome surprise! We had assumed that Volume 27 of John Eliot Gardiner’s epic Cantata Pilgrimage of 2000 might be his last word on Bach’s church cantatas. The cantatas not performed on the Pilgrimage (with one exception) had been recorded previously and were available on Gardiner’s original label, Archiv. But now we have a single disc of the cantatas for Ascension Day (including the
, BWV 11). This disc replicates the contents of Archiv 463 583-2, raising the intriguing possibility of a more or less complete Gardiner edition on his Soli Deo Gloria label. However, this is a recording from a live performance made possible by the generosity of a substantial number of individual donors, who are gratefully acknowledged in the booklet. Other sponsored concerts are possible, I suppose, but I’m not counting on them.
As a rough measure of the time that has passed since the Pilgrimage, I compared the rosters of this disc, labeled Volume 28, and Volume 27. Not unexpectedly all four soloists are different, though bass Dietrich Henschel did participate in some other Pilgrimage concerts. Gardiner continues to find fine fresh new voices. Astonishingly, not a single member of the Monteverdi Choir sang in both concerts! There were six hold-overs among the English Baroque Soloists: concertmistress Kati Debretzeni, of course, and Annette Isserlis and David Watkins, principal violist and cellist, respectively, plus Sarah Bealby-Wright (violin), Rachel Beckett (flute), and Mike Harrison (trumpet). Yet there’s the same energy and precision in the new performances that we have always admired in Gardiner’s Bach (except for the horns, who hit a couple of rough spots in Cantata 128’s opening chorus). Ascension Day is a happy time, of course, and these spirited performances make the best of it. Gardiner does it again.