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JS Bach Easter & Ascension Oratorios Review

Compilation. Released 2005.  

BBC Review

Another installment in Masaaki Suzuki and his Bach Collegium of Japan's fine ongoing...

Andrew McGregor 2006

Bach's Christmas Oratorio is the famous one, of course, but there are two others - for Easter and Ascension. If you've already come across Masaaki Suzuki and his Bach Collegium of Japan in their ongoing series of Bach Cantatas, then you'll have an excellent idea of the qualities to expect here, and you won't be disappointed by the brilliance of the orchestral introduction and the crisp articulation of the opening chorus of the Easter Oratorio.

Suzuki uses Bach's final version from April 1749 which gained a third trumpet part...the more the merrier, in the opening Overture. The soloists are fresh-voiced and sing with unaffected simplicity, especially soprano Yukari Nonoshita as Mary the mother of James in the Easter Oratorio.

This is such uplifting music...literally so in the case of the Ascension Oratorio, but it's here you'll find the only potential fly-in-the-ointment. The alto solo is perhaps the most famous music on the disc, the piece that Bach later turned into the Agnus Dei of his B minor Mass, and counter-tenor Patrick van Goethem's voice can't match the effortless beauty of the others, which may not matter if you actively prefer male altos.

The recording is first class: full, warm and detailed, in stereo from the CD layer or in surround as an SACD. Still raising your eyebrows at the thought of Bach from Japan? Don't: Suzuki's recordings are as good as anyone else out there at the moment, and better than most.

Like This? Try These:
JS Bach: St Matthew Passion (Gabrieli Players/McCreesh)
JS Bach: Actus Tragicus (Ricercar Consort)
JS Bach: Tönet, ihr Pauken! (Philippe Herreweghe)

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