Bach's Coffee Cantata BWV 211 & Peasant Cantata BWV 212 are secular and very light. The librettos are innocuous and sometimes silly; however, there's a playfulness and joy of life which redeem them. Bach's music is often glorious and well brings out the play and joy. Reviews I have read of the Tafelmusik recording have been rather unkind, noting that neither Tafelmusik nor the vocal soloists display sufficient charm and joy for the high-spirited moods of the music. I can't deny that Hogwood's vocalists are better than Tafelmusik's. Suzie LeBlanc can't match Emma Kirby for youth or high-spirits, and tenor Nils Brown pales next to Rogers Covey-Crump. However, Brett Polegato is very good in the baritone role. Tafelmusik does present a darker atmosphere than Hogwood, and I'm sure that the reviews have considered that a negative.
Ernest John Moeran was born in London but grew up in Norfolk and had strong ties with Ireland. While still a student at the Royal College of Music he was inspired by a performance of Vaughan Williams’s Norfolk Rhapsody that seemed “to breathe the very spirit of the English countryside”, and was soon collecting folksongs for himself. Moeran’s transcriptions were taken from English and Irish traditional singers with both rural and seafaring backgrounds, rescuing music and words both entertainingly earthy and sublimely beautiful which would otherwise have died with the artists who performed them.
This German battlefield drama, released on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the climactic 1943 defeat of the Nazi forces at Stalingrad in Russia, does not paint a pretty picture either of war itself or of the Germans fighting in that war. Out of hundreds of thousands of previously victorious German soldiers who took part in this most crucial battle of WWII, a mere six thousand ruined men survived. Today, the word "Stalingrad" is used by Germans to signify any particularly ruinous reversal or defeat. In the story, the lives of several German soldiers are followed as they are transformed from arrogant and victorious killers into demoralized cowards who will do anything at all in order to survive, usually without success. Due to a political climate of resurgent sympathy for the fascists at the time this film was made, is was particularly important to the filmmakers to show the soldiers as lacking any shred of military dignity or real courage. Thus, though this big budget, well-made film did well in Germany, its lack of any truly sympathetic characters made it less popular elsewhere.