These works both received their first performances in Leipzig - the Magnificat in 1723 and Cantata 82 in 1727. It was in 1723 that Bach had taken up thepost of Kantor at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, having previously been Kapellmeisterto Prince Leopold in Cothen. The Magnificat was originally heard ina version in E flat major at Christmas Vespers when movements with seasonaltexts were inserted; the version included on this disc was rendered by Bach someyears later, returning to the ordinary Magnificat text in order to makethe work performable all year round. Bach's approach to the evening canticle ischaracteristically large-scale. There is no use of recitative, owing perhaps tothe poetic nature of the text: the verses have little natural hierarchy and itis appropriate that they should all be afforded extended settings. The scoringis unusually rich and includes three trumpets, two flutes, two oboes, strings,continuo, and timpani - one of the largest ensembles to be assembled at theThomaskirche in Bach's time. Bach takes a literal view of the text in which, forinstance, the full five-part choir is used to demonstrate Omnes generationes ("All generations") with soloists used for the more reflective movements. Ina typically Bachian gesture the opening material returns for Sicut erat inprincipio ("As it was in the beginning").
In addition to the 75 J.S.Bach's Cantatas by Munchener Bach-Chor & Munchener Bach-Orchester conducted by Karl Richter.
The BWV 127 cantata was not included in the "75 Cantatas" set.
Three of Bach's four cantatas for solo alto were written within the period of a few months in the year, 1726. It is surmised by musicologists that they were written for a specific singer, for they are very difficult, and not easily sung by the moderately skilled personage. There are strenuous technical demands on the vocal and expressive qualities of the singer, who must be an accomplished coloratura capable of expressive cantible singing as well as possessing accurate intonation. A female or a castrato voice were out of the question, but a high falsetto was not.
Although J.S. Bach's orchestral music has been transcribed for guitar ensemble before, notably selected Brandenburg Concertos by the De Falla Trio and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, this is the first recording of the four suites for orchestra that I have heard in a setting of this type; it is not a source of material that readily springs to mind for such treatment and certainly purists would decry such practices.