Sunday, January 04, 2009
into the new year with JS Bach
This time last year I blogged about my [very belated] discovery of musical genius Johann Sebastian Bach. I had come across his brilliant Cello Suites as played by Steven Isserlis. Over Christmas and New Year I have been really enjoying a Christmas gift of some of the cantatas he wrote for the Church year. Bach seems to have been employed as a church musician, and he composed these great pieces for his choir and band of musicians for feast days and Sundays throughout the year.
The cantatas I have been playing were composed for Christmas, the Second Day of Christmas, New Year's Day and the Sunday following, and the recordings are those by John Eliot Gardiner, the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists. Gardiner had this idea to record all the cantatas in one year, wherever possible on the days set, and some in the settings where Bach would have played them originally. The record label he was with withdrew their promised support, so Gardiner set up his own label Soli Deo Gloria, embarked on what he called the Bach cantata pilgrimage, and is gradually releasing the results. One of the things that I love about this series is that it represents a beautiful coming together of music, theology and design. Here’s the artwork for Volume 14, the Christmas cantatas, recorded on 25 December 2000 in St Bartholomew's church, New York.