Bach: The Secular Cantatas / Suzuki, Bach Collegium Japan

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In 1995 Masaaki Suzuki and his Bach Collegium Japan began the monumental task of recording J.S. Bach’s extant church cantatas – an adventure that was brought to a close 18 years later. But Bach also composed a number of cantatas for secular occasions of which some twenty works have survived intact. Released on individual discs between 2004 and 2018, Masaaki Suzuki’s recordings of these works have now been gathered in a box set, available as a limited edition. The secular cantatas were written (both the texts and the music) for special events in the family, social, academic or political calendar – a wedding, a birthday celebration, an academic ceremony or a tribute to a prince. Although they were normally only performed once in their original form, Bach was keen to reuse material from them, if the opportunity arose. The best-known examples of using secular arias and choruses with new sacred texts are found in the Christmas Oratorio, for which Bach drew extensively on three festive cantatas written for the Prince-Elector of Saxony and his family. Included in the release is a 156-page booklet with an introduction by Bach specialist Dr Klaus Hofmann (in English, German and French) and the texts of the cantatas with English translations.


Excerpts of reviews from previously released volumes included in this set:

Bach: Secular Cantatas, Vol. 10 - Cantatas of Contentment:

We celebrate here, as always, many of Suzuki’s finest qualities of expressive lucidity, unforced coherence, and the quiet nobility of one serving the music as the most natural of reflexes.

– Gramophone

Bach: Secular Cantatas, Vol. 8 - Celebratory Cantatas:

Schleicht, spielende Wellen (‘Flow, playful waves and murmur’) follows the dramma per musica template of allegory – this time with four competing rivers yearning for the primacy of the monarch’s affections. However ludicrous, Bach constructs a very significant work which Suzuki treats as an undertaking of serious critical engagement. After 22 years of intensive Bach recording, Suzuki and his forces just seem to get better.

– Gramophone

Bach Secular Cantatas, Vol. 5 - Birthday Cantatas:

Lithe choral singing, balletic rhythms, and a detailed yet transparent sound. Joanne Lunn is agile and fleet as the goddess of War…Robin Blaze is lyrical as the goddess Pallas…Makoto Sakurada's lucid tenor is particularly effective in the rhetorical and declamatory recitatives, while bass Dominik Wörner paints the words to vivid effect.

– BBC Music Magazine

Product Description:

  • Release Date: November 01, 2019

  • Catalog Number: BIS-2491

  • UPC: 7318599924915

  • Label: BIS

  • Number of Discs: 10

  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach

  • Conductor: Masaaki Suzuki

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Bach Collegium Japan