Bach Orchestral Suites by La Petite Bande

Bach: The Orchestral Suites. La Petite Bande, Sigiswald Kuijken, Director. Accent ACC24279 (2013).

Sigiswald Kuijken, Sara Kuijken, Barbara Konrad, Ann Cnop; violins, Marleen Thiers; Viola, Marian Minnen, Ronan Kermoa; bass violins, Barthold Juijken; flute, Vinciane Baudhuin, Emiliano Rodolfi, Mathieu Loux; oboes, Rainer Johannsen; bassoon, Jean-François Madeuf, Jérôme Princé, Graham Nicholson; trumpets, Koen Plaetinck; timpani, Benjamin Alard; harpsichord.

La Petite Bande has recorded a spectacular rendition of Bach’s four orchestral suites, certainly some of the most spectacular instrumental music of the Baroque repertoire.  La Petite Bande director, Sigiswald Kuijken, has written a very informative essay explaining the history of these pieces. Unfortunately, more is unknown than known.  Kuijken speculates that the works were conceived for string orchestra and the wind parts were added at a later date. He also notes that sections of the 4th Suite were reused in the opening chorus of the Christmas Cantata, BWV 110.  Kuijken also remarks that he has rethought his approach to these works opting for small musical forces as opposed to the rather large ensemble that La Petite Bande employed in its performances and recording of about 30 years ago. He is to be commended for that note of honesty and courage to reexamine his previous musical approach.  Kuijken also takes special note of the trumpet section, praising them for their use of playing ventless instruments and employing authentic performance practice techniques. The pioneering work of historically informed trumpet performance by Jean-François Madeuf, Nicholson, Princé, and a few others is well known to HBS members. It is heartening to read the praise by a leading conductor so publically announced in the notes to a CD.

The performances of these works by La Petite Bande is stunning. The execution is precise and the fast tempi do not hinder the performance in the least. Of special interest to HBS members will be the wonderful trumpet playing. Madeuf and company play flawlessly and their ornaments are beautiful and tasteful.  The ensemble is playing at A= 415 Hz and the trumpeters are playing copies of an Ehe instrument made by Graham Nicholson. HBS members will certainly want this CD in their collection. We owe Madeuf a continued note of thanks for his tireless efforts at promoting authentic performance practice. It is encouraging that one of his first students, Jérôme Princé, is carrying on these efforts joining his former teacher in this wonderful recording.

-- Jeffrey Nussbaum

Destino Mexico by La Compania

La Compania. Destino Mexico: Baroque Rhythms from the New World. Recorded April, 2013: Ian Roach Hall, Melbourne, Australia.

Personnel: Danny Lucin, Director and cornetto (Serge Delmas, France, 2007); Lotte Betts-Dean, soprano; Daniel Thompson, tenor; Mitchell Gross, shawm, tenor dulcian; Brock Imison, alto dulcian, bass dulcian; Julian Bain, tenor sackbut (Rainer Egger, Switzerland, 2010); Glenn Bardwell, tenor sackbut (Rainer Egger, Switzerland, 1999); Victoria Watts, viola da gamba; Rosemary Hodgson, renaissance guitar, baroque guitar; Denis Close, cavquinho, percussion; Chirstine Baker, percussion.

In 1527, Fernando Cortez returned to Europe from Mexico with treasures from the Aztec culture he found there. Amongst these riches were a group of dancers, musicians, and jugglers who demonstrated their art which was notable for “the perfect unison of their singing and the perfection of their synchronism”. It is well known that within decades of Cortez’s arrival that massive cathedrals were built in Mexico and that European music was performed in them. In this recording we hear selections which are mainly villancicos-strophic songs which employ dance-like triple meter as well as syncopation, and often have texts with lighthearted lyrics. Michael McNab provides detailed information in the liner notes about this exceedingly interesting time of cultural assimilation and demonstrates how each culture (at least in the realm of music) benefited the other.

Danny Lucin’s playing is a joy to hear. His light and clear sound blends perfectly with the voices of Lotte Betts-Dean and Daniel Thompson. The precision of their intonation is notable. The music on this disc is characterized by lively and intricate rhythms which are performed in an exact fashion without any hint of tension. The performers are clearly comfortable in the midst of this complexity. Julian Bain and Glenn Bardwell provide the bottom and as with Lucin’s playing, they are precise in intonation and blend perfectly with the vocalists. The total ensemble shapes phrases as one with delicacy and charm.

Of note is one work by Gaspar Fernandes (1570–1629) entitled “Andres, Where are the Cattle?” The text is seemingly sweet and simple, yet raises an interesting theological question which goes unanswered. An instrumental rendition of another work by the same composer, “For in Such Grace (This Child is Born)” is exquisite in how in its rhythmic complexity such a powerfully reserved concept of grace is understood in the incarnation of Christ. It is wonderful how La Compania is able to present this.  Another instrumental, “Joy of the Heavens” (anonymous) is beautiful yet ominous in the scoring of the lower voices (including shawms played by Mitchell Cross and Brock Imison). Again, the playing is refined: perfect in intonation, balance and blend. The last track is a work by Juan Garcia de Zespedes (ca. 1619­–1678) “The Night is Beckoning” which celebrates the birth of Christ by beginning with a slow section which is reminiscent of “Lo, How a Rose” and then breaks into a festive section in which Lucin’s improvisation captures the tremendous joy of Christ’s birth.

This recording is a delight. The combination of cultural assimilation and excellence of performance which it offers is outstanding.


-- James Miller

Antonio Bertali: Sonatas by William Dongois

Le Concert Brise, Antonio Bertali: Sonatas. Accent recordings (ACC24260), 2013.

Personnel: William Dongois, cornetto (straight treble by Henri Gohin, 2007 after an 18th C. German model; cornettino by Gohin, 2008 and mute cornetto by Gohin, 2007); Stefan Legee, sackbut (Edward Meinl after Drewelwecz, 1595); Anne Schumann, violin; Monika Fischaleck, dulcian; Hadrien Jourdan and Carsten Lohff, harpsichord and organ; Matthias Spaeter, archlute.

Antonio Bertali (1605–1669) was born in Verona and served in the imperial court orchestra in Vienna. William Dongois provides fascinating information in his liner notes about the extent to which he went to assemble music by Bertali for this recording. His work revealed a particularly virtuosic coda for the Ciaconna per violin solo which was found only in a manuscript from a library in Wolfenbuttel. The inclusion of this coda (that it is indeed by Bertali is dubious) is indicative of the “panorama of German music from Austria and Northern Germany” presented on this recording. The thoroughness with which Dongois researches and discussed this is consistent with the performances on the recording.

To say that they are masterful does not begin to give them their proper credit. This music is treacherously technical and is performed with perfection, grace, abandon, yet always with warmth and heart. Dongois employs treble cornetto as well as cornettino yet the difference is imperceptible. Note also that he uses the mute cornetto as well as cornettino on the last track achieving great beauty in his choice of phrases for each. I want to draw particular attention to the Sonata for Cornetto and Organ, in which Dongois’ fabulous technique is paired with his continuous eloquent and gentle phrasing over three octaves. This recording will delight the listener on many levels. I cannot recommend it too strongly.

-- James Miller

Animal Fair by River Raisin Ragtime Revue

River Raisin Ragtime Revue, Animal Fair: Ragtime Music for Children and the Young at Heart.  Recorded July 14-17, 2013.

William Pemberton;  Director and tuba, Clark Irwin; trumpet, Robert Lindahl; trombone, Chaterine McMichael; piano, Rod McDonald; banjo, Andre Dowell; percussion, Priscilla Johnson, Barbara Sturgis-Everett; violins, Susan Schreiber; viola, Irina Tikhonova; cello, Laura Wyman; flute.

This latest recording by the River Raisin Ragtime Revue is a fun-filled CD of 21 Rags and popular dance tunes from the first two decades of the last century along with one original composition, Warthog Sride (2013), by the group’s pianist, Catherine McMichael.  The program captures the spirit of that early period with the ragtime repertoire and its rollicking gaiety, animal sounds, and general silliness. This is all projected with wonderful musical precision and spirited playing. Most of the composers of these tunes have been relegated to obscurity but some of the more well-known musicians include Fats Waller, Joseph Lamb and James Reese Europe.  There are some transcriptions including an arrangement of a 1917 recording of Tiger Rag transcribed by Wycliffe Gordon and an arrangement of Alligator Crawl transcribed from Louis Armstrong’s famous 1927 “Hot Five” recordings.  Some other tunes from this musical menagerie are Rooster Rag, Grizzly Bear Rag, Teasing the Cat, Animal Fair, Elephant Rag, Kitten on the Keys, Honky Tonky Money Rag and many others.

Another fine recording by the River Raisin Ragtime Revue, the listener is offered a view of a simpler and less jaded world. They have happily brought back to life many great rags and other tunes that still have the power to please.

-- Jeffrey Nussbaum

Two Horn Recordings by Anneke Scott

Préludes, Caprices, Fantaisies - Concerts Cachés: Solo Works by Jacques-François Gallay, Resonus, ASCD01, Recorded in the Musée national de Port Royale des Champs, France, on 22-24 November 2010.

Two fine recordings by the natural horn player Anneke Scott were recently released. Scott performs in the UK and continental Europe and she is the principal horn of the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, The English Baroque Soloists, The Orchestra of the Sixteen, Europa Galante, Dunedin Consort and Players, and The King’s Consort.

This recording is a truly impressive collection of unaccompanied works for horn, composed by the celebrated 19th century French natural hornist Jacques-Francois Gallay. The horn used for this recording is a cor solo by Marcel-Auguste Raoux, built in 1823 and virtually identical to the instrument Gallay played. It was loaned by the Bate Collection at the University of Oxford for the recording, and mScott’s playing on the instrument is breathtaking. Her tone quality is perfectly suited to these pieces, typically vocal in character. The even quality of the open and stopped tones throughout the recording is remarkable. Gallay’s pieces are incredibly challenging, especially when played on a natural horn, and Scott performs these pieces with an ease of technicality that will impress and delight lovers of historic brass instruments.

Scott has taken selections from three works by him, the Douzegrands caprices, Op. 32, the Préludesmesurésetnonmesurés, Op. 27, and the Fantaisiesmélodiques, Op. 58. She has selected individual works from each set and combined them to create groups of pieces as short suites, generally following the formula of Prélude-Caprice-Fantaisie. Each group of pieces is designed to be thematically and tonally connected. The result is stunning because each grouping can be legitimately heard as a short suite, and it is possible to imagine Gallay even performing them in this fashion in one of the many salon performances he gave during his illustrious career.

Another recording consisting entirely of solo works for natural horn does not come to mind, and a quick internet search was unfruitful. The thought of a CD of only solo natural horn pieces may seem monotonous, but such thoughts are quickly forgotten because the performances on the CD are so utterly compelling. Scott has put together an incredible CD that repeatedly delights and surprises the listener.


Voices from the Past: Instruments of the Bate Collection, Oxford – Volume 1: horns
Recorded 2011-2013 All Saints (New Eltham), Brunel University Studio, Finchcocks Musical Museum, Luxury Noise, and St. Andrew’s Church (West Dean)
Annake Scott and Joseph Walters (horns), Marcus Barcham-Stevens (violin), Robin Michael (cello), Frances Kelly (harp), Steven Devine (pianos), and James Gilchrist (tenor)

Voices from the Past is the first in a series of recordings being released by the Bate Collection of historical instruments at the University of Oxford. This recording features several fine examples of horns from a range of periods and designs, including hunting hornsdating from the early 1700s, up to valved horns dating from the early 20th century (see listing below for further details). Additionally, this recording features other historical instruments, some of which are part of the collection of the Finchcocks Musical Museum in Kent.

Overall, the playing on this recording is superb. The liner notes included with the CD provide concise and enlightening information about each horn, such as basic technical specifications, regional origin,and maker (when known). Surely it must have been an enormous challenge to discover and adapt to the various idiosyncrasies of each instrument. It speaks volumes to Scott’s abilities and talents that she is able to play such a wide range of instruments with equal expertise. The variety of horns heard on this recording is impressive:


Anon after Handel,

     from the Forrest Harmony for two horns (1733-1744)

cor de chasse by Bennett, London, c. 1700 (Scott)

cor de chasse by Hass, Nürnberg, 18th c. (Walters)

Joseph Haydn,

Divertimento a tre for violin, horn and cello, Hob IV:5 (1767)

anonymous hand horn, German, 18th c.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,

selections from Duos for two horns, KV. 487 (1786)

hand horn by Courtoisneveuaîné, Paris, 19th c. (Scott)

hand horn by Courtoisneveuaîné, Paris, 19th c. (Walters)

Heinrich Simrock,

Thema mit sechs variationen (1805)

cor solo by Marcel-Auguste Raoux, 1823

Ignaz Moscheles,

Introduction et rondeau ecossais, Op. 63 (1821)

radius omnitonic horn by Callcott, London, 19th c.

Franz Schubert,

Auf dem Strom, D. 943 (1828)

hand horn with additional 2 Stölzel valve block by Thomas Key, 19th c.

Camille Saint-Saêns,

Romance in F, Op. 36 (1874)

hand horn by Halari, Paris, 18th c.

Richard Strauss,

Andante, Opus Posthumous (1888)

rotary single F valve horn by Sachsische Musikinstrumenten Fabriken, Klingenthal, early 20th c.

Paul Dukas,

Villanelle (1906)

Périnetvalved horn by Couesnon, Paris, early 20th c.

anonymous French early 20th century straight mute
























As stated, the overall quality of playing on this recording is superb. The production quality is also quite good, though some selections leave me wishing for a better acoustic. On a positive note, many of the selections have the added touch of feeling like live performances, even intimate chamber music performances, because the recordings include the sound of the musicians breathing. Furthermore, in Dukas’s Villanelle, the sound of the valve mechanisms clicking on the horn can clearly be heard during technical passages. These “ambient” sounds add to the overall feeling that the listener is in the company of the performers and lend an authenticity that seems fitting for a collection of recordings on period instruments.

I was a bit disappointed with the sound quality of a few selections on this recording. For example, the recordings of Dampierre’s hunting horn fanfares were apparently done in a church, but the overall sound gives the impression of synthetic reverb, especially in the “echo” passages. This issue with the reverb can be heard on some of the other selections also, namely the Handel, Haydn, and Mozart pieces. However, the sound quality is much more authentic and acoustically pleasing on the other selections on this CD. This fact, when combined with the overall high quality of playing, definitely outweighs my concerns over the somewhat artificial sound of the reverb on the few tracks mentioned above.

Scott’s command of the horn is truly impressive. Her playing demonstrates a wide range of emotion, expression, and varied tone quality. Technical passages flow with ease and grace and louder dynamics possess an appropriate amount of brassiness in the sound. The standout performances on the recording include Simrock’s Themamitsechsvariationen, Schubert’s Auf dem Strom, Strauss’s Andante, and Dukas’s Villanelle. In the Simrock, the balance between the horn and harp is impeccable and Scott’s playing is wonderfully delicate and sensitive. The single action harp (c. 1800) played by Frances Kelly sounds fantastic. This recording was the first time I heard Auf dem Strom performed on a two valved horn, combining the use of valves with hand-stopping. It was very interesting to hear the piece as it most likely was played by Joseph Lewy at its premiere in 1828. The tenor, James Gilchrist, is a musician of the highest caliber. His voice and singing style can be easily compared to the sound and artistry of other fine English tenors, such as Pears, Langridge, or Bostridge. On the Strauss, Scott’s long phrases and lush tone quality are perfectly suited to the Romantic composer’s masterpiece. And  Scott’s performance of the Villanelle sparkles, especially in the passages that require hand stopping and echo effects.

-- Eric Brummitt

Recordings by Hansjorg Angerer’s Mozarteum Parforce


Hansjörg Angerer and the Mozarteum Parforce Horns, Jagdmusik am Kaiserhof zu Wien auf historischen Parforcehörnern, UNIMOZ 55, and Jagd Capriccio: Werke von Paul Angerer für historische Paforcehörner, UNIMOZ 56, Universität Mozarteum.

The Mozarteum Parforce Horns, led by Hansjörg Angerer, have recently released two fine recordings. The first, a collection of Hunting Music from the Viennese Court of the late nineteenth century, is an impressive compendium of music that will be of interest to any hunting horn enthusiast or scholar interested in the history of horn playing in Vienna. The second recording, a collection of contemporary music written for the historical instrument, is on par with other recent recordings of modern compositions for natural horn, such as Jeffrey Snedeker’s fine CD, The Contemporary Natural Horn, from 2010.

The first set of CDs I listened to was the collection of historical pieces. The music and playing presented on this collection are both wonderful and numerous mental images abounded as I enjoyed listening to the music: hunting choruses, huntsmen on horseback, hounds barking and chasing prey, lively pastoral dance scenes, jovial rounds of ale drinking, ridiculously large horn choirs at conferences, etc. Most of the music presented in this collection was written by the renowned hornist and teacher Josef Schantl, with some other works by Siegmund Weill, Karl Stiegler, and Anton Wunderer. The name Siegmund Weill may not be remembered by many, but the names Stiegler and Wunderer will be recognizable to those familiar with the lineage of accomplished horn players in Vienna. Stiegler was appointed first horn to the Vienna Court Opera by the estimable Gustav Mahler. He also served as first horn in the Vienna Philharmonic for many years. Wunderer was a member of Schantl’s horn quartet and a prolific composer of horn quartets.

The order of the musical selections on this historical collection presents a delightful, imaginary journey. We hear on the first disc a musical journey through the periods of the hunters’ day, from a morning greeting, to the hunt itself, the death of the quarry, and even the horn calls for each beast. The journey continues with pieces representing various hunting regions, an homage to St. Hubert, some dancing music, and a trip to the tavern. The second disc is comprised of forty-eight fanfares composed in honor of princes, dukes, and various other aristocratic figures of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its allies, each introduced by a “master of ceremonies” who announces the title of the dedicatee.

The second set of CDs is an interesting collection of contemporary pieces for hunting horns. All compositions on the set are by Hansjörg Angerer and Paul Angerer (both gentlemen have the same surname, but there is no relation). The styles of the contemporary pieces range from solemn hymns to raucous fanfares. At times the music is reminiscent of traditional hunting calls and fanfares, at other times it is reverent, devotional (think Rheingold or St. Hubert Mass), and in other moments, these contemporary pieces can be strident or even playful. Interestingly, there were times during my listening that I was reminded of bluesy and jazzy harmonies and melodies (I could swear there was a brief quote from “Hello Ma Baby” in one of the pieces).

Hunting enthusiasts will be pleased to know that both of these CDs were produced with financial help from the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (, an organization devoted to preserving wild animals for sustainable hunting. CIC works on many conservation fronts, including the promotion of “cultural inheritance.” These two excellent CD sets certainly fit that mission since they record both historical and contemporary works for the hunting horn.

The sound quality on both recordings is top notch and it must be stressed again that the playing is incredible. My one gripe about the recordings is an unfortunate error with the breaks between tracks on the collection of contemporary music. There are a couple of moments where I heard the sound of the horn players breathing, as if in preparation to play, but this occurred at the tail end of a track and not at the beginning of a new track. It was a little unsettling to hear a preparatory breath and be given the feeling of anticipation, only to be forced to wait through the break in tracks before hearing the opening notes of the next piece.

--Eric Brummitt

[Editor's note: at the time of publication the website link for the CD publisher was not working, so certain details such as cost and year of publication were unavailable.]

Venetian Art 1600 by Dongois and Le Concert Brisé

Venetian Art 1600: The new instrumental style by Fontana and Buonamente. Accent ACC 24253 Le Concert Brisé. William Dongois; conrnett and Director, Christine Moran; violin, Katharina Bäuml; dulcian, Matthias Spaeter; lute, Hadrien Jourdan; organ, Carsten Lohft, harpsichord and organ. Recorded July 14-19, 2011.

William Dongois formed Le Concert Brisé in the 1990s and the members of this fine ensemble share a musical approach that includes a dedication to the study and understanding of the historical sources as well as the use of improvisational techniques based on jazz and traditional music. The result is incredibly satisfying, particularly when applied to the beautiful early 17th century music presented on this recording. The program includes 12 sonatas and 4 dance pieces by Giovanni Battista Buonamente and Giovanni Battista Fontana.

William Dongois outlines the historical developments of early 17th century instrumental writing in his informative liner notes which are presented in English, French and German. He explains that the early 17th century sonata form took much of its lead from the developments of vocal music and an independent instrumental approach was further developed by composers such as Castello, Scarani, Barini, Frescobaldi and the two composers represented on this recording. Fontana’s music is extremely florid; Dongois and the members of Le Concert Brisé do much with further embellishing the lines. He plays on a 465 Hz straight cornett constructed in 3 sections by Henri Gohin and he achieves the most glorious warm tone imaginable. Even on very virtuosic pieces such as Fontana’s Sonata prima and his Sonata quarta which occasionally ascends to the altissimo register, Dongois maintains a beautiful warmth of tone. The Buonamente sonatas and dance pieces are equally florid and have a majestic quality. His Sonata Prima seems to be influenced by Claudio Monteverdi. The members of Le Concert Brisé share a wonderful sense of ensemble and are all first rate performers who seem to have a complete understanding of this repertoire. The performance employs mean tone temperament at high pitch. It is a stunning performance.

 -- Jeffrey Nussbaum

Holger Eichhorn: Bach's Chrismas Oratorio


Holger Eichhorn and Musicalische Compagney, Johann Sebastian Bach, Christmas Oratorio I-III (Querstand VKJK 1238, 2012).

The intention of this CD is to reproduce accurately the performing forces available to J. S. Bach in December 1734. This means, notably, that only four singers were employed for this recording, all of them male, for both the solo and choir parts: Leopold Lampelsdorfer (boy soprano with the Bad Tölz Boys’ Choir, admirably coached by Gerhard Schmidt-Gaden), Thomas Riede, Jan Hübner, and Georg Lutz. According to conductor Eichhorn, this grouping is a historic “first.”

Further participants include a pre-existing double-reed ensemble, “Les hautboïstes de prusse,” consisting of Georg Corall, Renate Hildebrand, Eva Grießhaber, and Nikolaus M. Broda (on various instruments including oboe, oboe d’amore, oboe da caccia, tenor oboe, and bassoon). The string group was headed by Irina Kisselova, the excellent first trumpeter was Helen Barsby, and the organ continuo player was Torsten Übelhör. Whereas each part was played by only one instrument, Eichhorn for reasons of his own made an exception with the violins, with two to a part for Violin I and II. The recording was made on three days in September 2012.

Holger Eichhorn’s booklet notes make clear that his intentions were based on precepts voiced by Baroque theorists such as Walther, Mattheson, and C. P. E. Bach. Briefly: (1) Instrumental declamation should follow textual declamation closely, so that it is possible for a listener to imagine the text even when the singer is silent. (2) Judicious decorative ornaments should not be eschewed, and recitatives should not be performed metronomically, but with a certain sense of rubato that allows the intended meaning to become still clearer. (3) The vocal choir should be comprised of soloists or “Concertisten”, one to a part, because the complex writing is often similar to that of the solo arias; it is a question not of quantity (of singers to a part), but of quality. In Bach’s day boys matured into men at a later age than today, so that the presence in this recording of a boy soprano whose voice is strong enough is rare indeed, a true advantage. In some of Bach’s works a second vocal choir of “Ripienisten” exists in certain situations such as turbae interjections, but these are not to be found in the present work. (4) Parts IV-VI are omitted from this recording. Parts I-III represent the report of the birth of Christ and in Eichhorn’s opinion are therefore justified as the “true Christmas Oratorio”. Their key framework (D-G-D) also reflects such homogeneity, while Part IV’s key of F shows the separation between the manger scene and subsequent developments beginning with the name-giving in the temple. Furthermore, the flutes seem to symbolize angels; they are present in Parts I-III but absent from Parts IV-VI. Finally, there are three chorales each in Parts I-III, but only one or two in each of the others. (5) A sound balance as in chamber music was striven for. Bach’s instrumentation calls for separate “choirs,” that is, separate groups of instruments and voices: singing choir, brass-timpani choir, woodwind choir, string choir (not a large orchestra with many players per part), and organ. The fact that Eichhorn doubled Violins I and II is probably in keeping with Bach’s own requirement that the first and second violin parts should be performed by two or three players each, as voiced in his famous Entwurff of August 23, 1730 to the Leipzig city council. We shall return to this document below. (6) A special case was made of the oboe ensemble’s reeds being prepared after the example of the few surviving historical examples. Whereas modern double reeds have a thicker “heart” in their middle to produce a dark and stable sound, baroque reeds are uniformly thin, producing a more flexible and brighter tone and thus clearer articulation of vowels and consonants.

With this recording, Eichhorn has brilliantly attained his wish for a chamber-music sound. All four vocal soloists are impeccable, with excellent diction and superior musical understanding. It is impossible to single one out ahead of the others. Furthermore, the recording quality is transparent, and the text can be clearly understood.

Nevertheless, it must have been difficult to put this recording together. Despite its excellence, problems of balance do occasionally occur. Let me mention a few places that I noticed while listening. For example, in No.1, although its bar accents every two bars are excellent, the timpani sound pervades the entire church acoustics, and at the end of its long rolls (for example in bar 8) it covers up the bass notes. In the tutti sections of No. 1 (such as bar 124 ff.), the tenor part is often not very audible (although it can clearly be heard in similar passages of No. 22). In No. 4, the violin which is supposed to double the solo oboe d’amore is not audible. In No. 7, the fugal soprano entry in bars 12-14 is scarcely audible. In No. 10, the oboe da caccia I is often too soft. In No. 18, when the oboe group enters in bars 5 ff., its sound overpowers the important sixteenth-note triplets in the bass part. Finally, in No. 31, the solo violin sounds thin and the basso continuo is louder than necessary; furthermore, there is not much differentiation between piano and forte.

This writer, also a trumpeter, must give first Baroque trumpeter Helen Barsby a great compliment for her sensitive playing. If in No. 8, however, she were to look at the singer’s text in bars 17 and 21, which corresponds to her own part in bars 3 and 7, she would never have breathed on the first repeat before the final note of bar 7 in the middle of the word “star-ker.” She does some nice ornamentation the second time around (notably in bars 50 and 75-76). Her long trills in bar 60 of No. 24I/II are also first-rate.

Concerning the “heartless” oboe reeds I beg to differ. It must be said that this knowledge is not new and has been followed for a number of years at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis; furthermore, a bright sound can also be attained on Baroque reeds with a thicker heart.

I do not know why the organist sometimes leaves out some of the figured bass figures (such as in No. 2, on the first beat of bars 5, 10, and 15) or why he adds a non-existent figure 9 (in No. 4, on the first beat of bar 29).

In No. 16, Eichhorn copies Bach’s mistake and gives the text of this recitative to the evangelist (tenor). In actual fact, it is a continuation of the instructions given by the angel (soprano) that began in the earlier recitative No. 13, telling that the Christ child can be found in diapers, lying in a manger.

In my opinion it is too bad that the flute, which in No. 19 doubles the solo alto part of this aria at the upper octave, has been omitted.

The preceding list of caveats should in no way prejudice a listener’s appreciation and enjoyment of this highly interesting recording. We might facetiously remark that Eichhorn has perhaps not gone far enough in his attempt to reproduce Bach’s original situation. If he were really to duplicate the conditions which Bach was forced to accept in 1730, his performers would not have played so beautifully! As Bach wrote in the Entwurff (my translation), “modesty prevents me from truthfully mentioning the qualities and musical knowledge [of the performers]; nevertheless it should be taken into account that some are of retirement age, and others are not in such shape as they should be.” Eichhorn’s musicians are young, enthusiastic, and in great shape! The entire recording was performed with impeccable intonation, energy, and drive. Highly recommended.

-- Edward H. Tarr