Between 1999 and 2006, the legendary baroque music specialist Ton Koopman brought together a stunning array of singers to record the complete cantatas of J.S. Bach alongside his own Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir. Released originally mostly in 3-CD sets, this wonderful cycle is available in its entirety. The 67 separate CDs have now been gathered together in a box with a booklet that includes a complete tracklisting and information about each recording.
...Ton Koopman is an exclusive artist of the Time-Warner organization for which he is recording the complete cycle of the sacred and secular Cantatas of J.S. Bach as well as the integral of the works for organ. The organ recordings have been completed in July 1999. The cantatas will be completed in 2004. In September 1997 Ton Koopman was rewarded the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis "Echo Klassik 1997" for the Bach Cantatas...Ton Koopman (Conductor, Harpsichord, Organ) - Short Biography
The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir (= ABO&C), founded in 1979 by Ton Koopman, are a group of musicians from all over the world, with a particular passion for the Baroque. About seven times a year they get together to perform live and make CD-recordings under the inspired direction of Ton Koopman...The Bach Cantatas Website
Although Ton Koopman's fine Bach cantata series, begun in the mid-1990s, was abandoned by Warner Classics/Erato in 2001, the conductor managed to resume the 22-volume edition's issue through his own label, Antoine Marchand (a sub-label of Challenge Classics). And while distribution in the U.S. hasn't always been steady, that question seems to be resolved and we can expect to enjoy the remaining volumes as they appear over the next few years. This Volume 2 is by no means a "new release", but since Classicstoday.com last visited the series in June, 2003, with a review of Volume 1 (type Q6613 in Search Reviews), we thought we'd pick up where we left off. As collectors of these cantatas already know, Koopman initially released 12 of the 22 volumes with Erato, so if you already own any of these, you don't need to consider the Challenge Classics versions since they are identical...–David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
In evaluating a Bach cantata recording, there are so many variables to consider--programming choices; quality and type of soloists; tempos and balances among soloists, orchestra, and chorus; quality of choir and orchestra; use of alternate arias (or voices for a particular aria); version of the score (where more than one exists); instrumentation (period or modern instruments; configuration of continuo); and of course, the quality of the recorded sound--that comparisons between different recordings often become more descriptions than critiques. No matter how "good" a performance is, if you don't like period instruments you won't like Herreweghe or Koopman; likewise, if a certain countertenor soloist bugs you, you'll be unlikely to enjoy a cantata in which that singer is prominently featured, no matter how wonderful the work's other movements sound. On the other hand, if you like Koopman - or Herreweghe, both of whom are the most interpretively consistent among period-instrument practitioners (Rilling fits that bill in the modern-instrument category; "periodists" Gardiner and Harnoncourt are notoriously unpredictable) - then you'll likely be pretty satisfied with most of their efforts in this repertoire...David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com