Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Masaaki Suzuki's Final Cantata Volume

I bought the 55th (and final) volume in Masaaki Suzuki's journey through all of Bach's cantatas (numbering some 200, in all). The earliest I have was recorded in 1995; the latest in 2013. The overall consistency has been excellent from my sampling over the years, and all praise to Masaaki Suzuki, Johann Sebastian Bach, Robert von Bahr (of BIS records) and the Bach Collegium Japan in Kobe. The last volume features the current line-up of faithful soloists: Hana Blazikova, Robin Blaze, Gerd Türk and Peter Kooij, making this mammoth venture a true Japanese-European one.

As has been usual, the BIS engineers have produced a well balanced and well recorded disc.The project started in 1995 in Kobe, and over the course of 18 years BIS and Suzuki have marched triumphantly side by side. The smaller companies such as BIS, Naxos and Harmonia Mundi can do these kinds of things. Music lovers must always regret that in America – that was safe and wealthy during the decades 1930-60 – the large music labels such as Columbia and RCA were sparing in their fidelity and long-term views, thus RCA refusing to record its exclusive artist, Sergei Rachmaninov, in all of his own music, or to give much recording space to Mischa Elman or Toscha Seidel. Would that BIS or Naxos had been around at that time!

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