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Cantatas (sacred) - Released February 16, 2018 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Diapason d'or / Arte
The cantata Jesus nahm zu sich die Zwölfe (Jesus gathered the twelve to Himself) BWV 22, holds a historic place in Bach’s work. Indeed he composed it while still in Köthen, as an audition piece for the position of Thomaskantor in Leipzig, and then conducted it on February 7th, 1723, maybe even singing the bass part himself. Famously the city council, unable to convince its preferred composers – Telemann, Graupner and two others –, decided to settle with “mediocre” Bach… The gospel of the day first announces his death and his resurrection by Christ and his disciplines. A modest orchestra: voices, strings, one oboe and continuo, but the musical content is – like in almost all of Bach’s cantatas – amongst the best he’s ever written. For the same celebration, Bach composed a new cantata the following year, Herr Jesu Christ, wahr’ Mensch und Gott (Lord Jesus Christ, true Man and God) BWV 127. But it has almost nothing in common with the previous piece: here Bach offers a very impressive reflection on physical death. Throughout his cantatas he called for a blessed death to free himself from the vicissitudes of life on Earth, but this now reveals how much he may have feared physical death itself. The aria ”Die Seele ruht” is one of these sublime moments suspended in time, an ineffable tintinnabulum, in which the soprano and the oboe dialogue on a harrowing theme while the flutes and string pizzicatos symbolise the passing of time with incredible beauty. Finally it’s with Die Elenden sollen essen (The miserable shall eat) BWV 75 that Bach started off his work in Leipzig, in St. Nicholas Church this time, as the cantatas were alternately performed in both churches. Probably because he wanted to start with a bang, he designed this cantata on a huge scale: fourteen numbers, divided in two parts. Of course Bach would have never been able to produce such vast and powerful partitions on a weekly basis, but there is a real substance to this Passion… and it’s with great passion that Philippe Pierlot, his Ricercar Consort and the soloists perform these masterpieces. © SM/Qobuz
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Cantatas (sacred) - Released November 18, 2013 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Hi-Res Audio
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Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released November 5, 2009 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklets + Video Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
Philippe Pierlot and the Ricercar Consort's 2006 recording of Bach's Magnificat brings back the glory days of historically informed performances, those halcyon days in the 1980s when musicians, empowered by scholarship and energized by virtuosity, were recording the Baroque repertoire with the zeal of the newly converted. Though Pierlot and his musicians are of a younger generation, they bring a missionary fervor to the music, a program of Bach's Magnificat, BWV 243, and Missa Brevis, BWV 235, interspersed with two well-chosen organ works, the Fuga sopra il Magnificat, BWV 733, and the Präludium und Fuga, BWV 541. Pierlot's textures are clean, his rhythms buoyant, his colors bright, and tempos brisk, but not rushed in the fast movements, and contemplative but not moribund in the slow movements. The Ricercar Consort plays with technical brilliance and manifest enthusiasm as an ensemble, and the violin and flute soloists deliver sparkling performances. But perhaps the best thing is the five vocal soloists and given that they also serve as the choir, their performances are even more remarkable. With clarion tones, gracious technique, and an effortless blend, they comport themselves with the ease and luster of the best jazz vocal groups, and the spirit they bring to their parts is infectious. Francis Jacob delivers forceful yet effervescent readings of the two organ works. Mirare's digital sound is as clear and as real as a blue sky. © TiVo
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released March 31, 2011 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklets Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released May 1, 2007 | Mirare

Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
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Classical - Released January 1, 2009 | Mirare

Booklet
Belgium's Ricercar Consort has a long record of Bach performances that transcend national styles; it has something of the dramatic Italian approach, the lush sound from Francophone lands, and well-drilled German clarity. In this set of Bach cantatas it uses the currently fashionable one-voice-per-part approach, with the "chorus" consisting simply of the voices massed together. No doubt there is evidence that the procedure was used in Bach's time; whether it was considered desirable in North German communities where the bourgeousie observed the big choirs of noble houses and powerful churches elsewhere in Europe is another matter. The results in this collection of early works, however, are musically persuasive. Included are three early Bach cantatas, including by many reckonings the very first one, the Cantata No. 131, "Aus der Tiefen ruf ich Herr zu dir," BWV 131 (From the depths, Lord, I call out to you). This work is not at all in the usual Bach cantata patterns with chorus and chorale framing a series of arias. Instead there is a sequence of multisectional movements, with the chorale distributed around the work in the manner of a keyboard chorale partita. All three of these cantatas, including the famous Canata No. 4, "Christ lag in Todesbanden," BWV 4 (Christ lay, bound by death), look back to the 17th century -- to the intense and intimate sacred music of Buxtehude specifically -- and are among the most expressive of all of Bach's works. The madrigal-like solo textures work well here, especially when soloists of the highest caliber are present as they are on this recording. Soprano Katharine Fuge (and didn't she choose the right line of work!) and fast-rising countertenor Carlos Mena are both standouts. Sample Mena's luxuriant melancholy on the aria "Leget euch dem Heiland unter" (Submit to the savior) from the Cantata No. 182, "Himmelskönig sei willkommen," BWV 182 (May the king of heaven be welcome). The coolly intense playing of the Ricercar Consort under Philippe Pierlot supports the singers and the overall mood beautifully at every turn, and the sound is superb. A major find in the crowded Bach cantata marketplace, at least for those who buy the one-voice-per-part theory or are willing to accept it for the sake of argument. © TiVo