The Critic's Chair series ended in March 2015.
Peter Walls looks at the final disc, Volume 55, in the Bach Collegium Japan's complete cantata series, begun nearly 20 years ago. The Academy of Ancient Music under Richard Egarr present a dramatically-tight version of Bach's St John Passion, and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra dazzle with a new release of the Brandenburg Concertos. He also reviews a refreshing disc of the Zefiro Baroque Orchestra, who remind us just how attractive Telemann can be.
BACH: Gloria in Excelsis Deo BWV191; Lobe den herrn, meine seele BWV69; Freue dich, erloste schar BWV30
Bach Colleguim Japan/Masaaki Suzuki
(BIS SACD 2031)
The final volume in the Bach Collegium Japan’s epic complete cantata series. Mostly impeccably performed, this disc seems a little bit too much like a mop-up operation.
BACH: St John Passion BWV245
Academy of Ancient Music, Choir of the AAM/Richard Egarr
(AAM Records AAM002)
A new St John Passion with James Gilchrist as a fine Evangelist. The Acadamy of Ancient Music under Richard Egarr present a dramatically-tight version of this masterpiece. The sections of the work that comment on the scriptural narrative might sometimes have benefited from a more expansive treatment.
BACH: Brandenburg Concertos
Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
(Harmonia Mundi HMC 90 2176.77)
A splendid set of Brandenburgs from one of the top European period-instrument ensembles. The myriad of solo instruments in the set are all played with real virtuosity and the originality of Bach’s conception comes through strongly.
TELEMANN: Overtures in D Major, Bb Major and D minor
Zefiro Baroque Orch/Alfredo Bernadini
A refreshing CD that reminds us just how attractive Telemann can be. These Overture Suites show him injecting a strong theatrical character, humour, and ear-catching sonorities into a quite conventional form.