|Fabrizio d'Auria said:|
This recording contains three of the most famous Bach cantatas performed on "modern instruments". I warmly recommend this recording both to the neophyte and to the Bach veteran (although he probably has it already). I believe that even "period instruments" hard-liners will find a few reasons to enjoy this CD.
While it may be argued that the present recording of BWV 51 does not reach the heights of Gardiner and Kirkby on Philips, I think that the present interpretation (for once this word has its full meaning) of BWV 56 and 82 by Fischer-Dieskau is unmatched. In this era of specialization and futile (when not irritating) discussions about "marginalia" it is refreshing to listen to a true artist bring a masterpiece to life, be it "Ich habe genug", "Winterreise" or "Gotterdammerung". We are reminded that "western classical music" is "one" (though its language changed through the centuries). This master baritone's performance must be heard. My shaky English would not do it justice.
As usual, Helmuth Rilling and his ensemble deliver a sober, no-nonsense performance, letting the music speak for itself. You can feel the love and respect they have for this music.
The cantatas BWV 56 and 82 are perhaps among those cantatas that make Ms. Hanford "wonder if even Bach himself was saddened by the evils that Christianity has inflicted on humanity". I respectfully but firmly disagree with this kind of speculation. In my modest opinion, the "affects" expressed by Bach in his cantatas entirely belong to the "absolute" reference frame of (Lutheran) Christianity. At the time of Bach, society was still (if not for much longer) totally integrated and its values "absolute". Speculating on the thoughts of an early 18-th century lutheran from the stand point of an end-of-the-20-th-century (passionate) atheist is
a delicate operation. Cultural relativism is a dangerous tool. The damages inflicted on western civilization by its misuse have already been extensive and, maybe, irreversible.
We can endorse Bach on the banjo and even on the bagpipe (why not? it's harmless if not to everybody's taste) but I believe (once again, with all due respect) that we cannot lightly tamper with "philosophical systems".