Magazine article Gramophone

JS Bach: 'Bach without Words'

Magazine article Gramophone

JS Bach: 'Bach without Words'

Article excerpt

JS Bach

'Bach Without Words'

Instrumental movements and arrangements from Cantatas Nos 4, 17, 20, 26, 40, 42, 62, 68, 76, 97, 105, 120, 127, 131, 133, 140, 146, 150, 163, 166, 191 and 202

Lautten Compagney

Deutsche Harmonia Mundl (F) 8887519467-2

(74' * DDD)

On the face of it, this is turkey-carving or eggnog-making Bach: an album of instrumental contrafacta, if that isn't a contradiction in terms, in which sacred cantata arias and choruses have been lent a secular purpose, eminently friendly to radio play, through discreet transpositions, snipping of da capo sections and assignment of vocal lines to soloists in a concerto grosso ensemble of the size Bach himself directed at Zimmermann's coffee house in Leipzig.

No justification is required for such a happy enterprise, though one can be found in the composer's own readiness to make such arrangements when it suited him. Inspection of the booklet reveals a loftier purpose on the part of the arrangers, who have gathered the movements into three cantata-concertos, following a theological scheme of comparably obscure content to Nikolaus Harnoncourt's late requisitioning of Mozart's last three symphonies as an instrumental oratorio. …

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