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J. S. Bach (1685-1750). Magnificat, Cantata and Motet (BWV 243, 21 & 225)

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This live recording from the "Concerti di larno" at San Francesco Church in Locarno features the "Solisti e Coro della Radio Svizzera, Lugano" along with the "Ensemble Vanitas" under charismatic conductor Diego Fasolis.

This content was published on January 8, 2008 - 10:30

Diego Fasolis

Diego Fasolis studied organ, piano, voice and conducting at the Zurich
Conservatory. Further studies led him to Paris (organ and improvisation with Gaston Litaize) and Cremona (perfromance practice with Michael Radulescu). Fasolis was prize winner at various international competitiones.
He performed a cycle featuring Bach's complete organ works in 1985, and in 1986 a cycle featuring the complete organ works by Mendelssohn and Liszt. In addition
to his activities as a performer, he is also recognised as composer.

Coro della Radio Svizzera, Lugano

The Chorus of Swiss Radio in Lugano was founded about 50 years ago by Edwin Loehrer. Nowadays its led by Diego Fasolis. it has earned international recognition with its broadcasts and recordings of Italian music from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The chorus performs in various formations, wheter as madrigalists or as a large chorus.

Ensemble Vanitas

The Ensemble Vanitas was founded in 1994 in Lugano. It is the result of the collaboration of eminent musicians specialised in the use of historical instruments. Their aim was to establish Baroque performance practices in the concerts of the Chorus of Swiss Radio in Lugano. The repertory centers primarily around compositions from the 17th and 18th centuries. Vanitas' members all have studied at Europe's most famous conservatories and appear at the most important festivals of early music.

Three major vocal works by Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach wrote the "Magnificat, BWV 243" for his first Christmas in Leipzig in 1723. The work was sung unusually in Latin instead of German and included four movements, true miniature motets, to texts not associated with the traditional text of the "Magnificat". It was tne years later when Bach revised his composition, transposing it from E-flat major to D major, removing the four motets and employing the meanwhile more fashionable flutes. Audibly striking is Bach's extreme pithiness (arias without "da capos"), and his use of theatrical effects, like for example the unexpected stop on a dissonance on the word "superbis" in "Fecit potentiam". The handling of the polyphonic lines is superb, the voices move in contrary motion while the oboes sing the "cantus firmus". Twelves distinct numbers, none of which is longer than three minutes: musical minimalism at its best.

The cantata "Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis, BWV 21" seemed to be first performed in Weimar after the Feast of the Trinity in 1714. The opening measures of the "Sinfonia" are reminiscent of a film in slow motion.
"Seufzer, Tränen" employs numerous appoggiaturas in a typically expressive manner. The further the cantata progresses, the more and serene it becomes. the concluding chorus provides a surprising finale. Trumpets and timpani are added to the oboe, strings and continuo.

The motet "Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, BWV 225" is one of the most brillant gems from Bach's vocal repertoire. Written for eight voices in double choir, a form Bach rarely employed, it is characterised by an unusual treatment of the ensembles. The first section meanders in very dense polyphony. The second section assigns, in very original manner, two different texts to the two different choirs. The final section juxtaposes the two choirs before uniting them in the monumental concluding four voice fugue.

Production information

J. S. Bach. Magnificat/Cantata/Motet (1996). Musica Helvetica MH CD 88.2. CD produced for SRI by Patrick Linder.

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