Given the considerable number of recordings that have tried to place Renaissance compositions within the context for which they were written, it is odd that the same has so rarely been done for Bach. After all, most of Bach's output consists of Gebrauchsmusik, music written for daily use. This release by Scotland's historical-instrument Dunedin Consort and its leader John Butt shows the possibilities of this approach.
JS Bach and Vivaldi s' Magnificat's: desert island repertoire to illustrate the splendour of the orchestra Le Concert des Nations and choir of La Capella Reial de Catalunya. Jordi Savall offers a vivid and striking performance of these two masterpieces, recorded live at the Royal Chapel in Versailles in 2013. Each of them is introduced by a concerto by the same composer in the same tonality. The superlative performance of Pierre Hantaï in the Concerto BWV1052 is another jewel to the crown of this album. The bonus DVD features both Magnificats and Bach s Concerto.
On April 9, 1786, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach conducted a charity concert in Hamburg featuring three of his finest and most representative works: the Symphony Wq 183/1, the Magnificat (written in 1749 in the hope of succeeding his father as Cantor in Leipzig) and his stupendous 'Heilig' for double choir, of which he wrote, "It will be my swan song of this kind, and will serve to ensure that I shall not soon be forgotten after my death."
There is no doubt that the forces Herrweghe has employed here are some of the best in the 'Passion' business. Aside from this, however, one cannot eliminate the fact that there are several other notable recordings of this work that stand on their own merit, which for the most part are as 'good' or as 'bad' as this one. The three that I own which includes this one(all reviewed by me on Customer reviews) are: Gardiner's 1988 recording with the outstanding Monteverdi Choir that sparkles and shines as only they can; the 1994 Cleobury King's College Choir recording, whose soloists are superb etc. etc. etc. So it all really amounts to what YOU hear and what turns YOU on!
In the early 1730s Bach revised his E flat major Magnificat of 1723, transposing it to D major and omitting the interpolations peculiar to Christmas performances in Leipzig. (Recent research suggests such richly scored Latin Magnificats could be performed in Lutheran churches at some 15 annual festivals, not just the three – Xmas, Easter, Ascension – previously supposed.)
In terms of emotional impact, Handel's Dixit Dominus and Bach's Magnificat are well matched, both fiery exclamations of religious fervour, both extended works of contrapuntal complexity and soloistic virtuosity, the Bull and the Bear in the ring of one CD. I won't tell where I'd place my wager, but it's high drama to have these two pieces performed together.
C.P.E. Bach's "Magnificat" is one of the glories of the choral repertoire, and, like other reviewers, I envy you your first experience of this magnificent music. I first heard it in the impressive performance by Philip Ledger and the Academy of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields. I think Rilling's performance is even better, though, more supple and nuanced, without sacrificing speed and intensity.