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GRAMOPHONE : (02/2013)
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Reviewer: Lindsay Kemp

Suzuki’s cycle nears its end with one-off cantatas

Works assembled for one-off occasions may not at first sound like the most gripping subject for the latest volume of church cantatas from Masaaki Suzuki, but then, this is Bach, and it seems unlikely that anyone who heard these expertly crafted pieces grace two weddings (BWV120a and BWV195), one memorial service (BWV15 7) and one event unknown (BWV192) would have felt short-changed, even if they had been aware that some of the music was recycled from earlier use. BWV120a features an aria derived from the ravishing Cantabile of the Violin Sonata BWV1O19a and an organ concerto movement based on the sunny Preludio of the E major Solo Violin Partita, as well as a chorus that would resurface as ‘Et exspecto resurrectionem’ in the B minor Mass; but if that suggests a whiff of the workshop, there is no lack of quality or authenticity of feeling here, nor indeed of freshness. Who could think anything ‘phoned-in’ about the gigue-finale to BWV192, the flutes that encircle the soprano recitative in BWV195 or the same cantata’s outrageously charming and ‘modem’ galant-style aria for bass?

Suzuki accords these works the same level of respect as Bach did, consistently striking the right balance between either joyous celebration or sober reflection and a controlled dignity proper to the occasions they adorned. His choir and orchestra perform lovingly as ever, phrasing with profound taste and intelligence, and benefitting from sound and balance judged to perfection. The soloists are for the most part no less stylish or appealing, with Peter Kooij putting in a particularly solid stint. Three of them had recorded the B minor Mass with Herreweghe only a month before making this CD (PHI, 8/12) and the exception, Christoph Genz, seems less secure than they; indeed, his rather reedy voice comes under pressure in higher passages. But that doesn’t stop this disc of Bach-to-order from being full of delights.

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