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Christmas Cantatas
SACD-Hybrid 
List Price: $19.99
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Christmas Cantatas on SACD-Hybrid

Bach: Christmas Cantatas / Kuijken, Van Der Crabben, Suh, Genz, Noskaiova, Bach, J.s. / Suh / Noskaiova / Van Der Crabben, Release Date: 11/22/2011. Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach, Performer: Christoph Genz, Jan Van der Crabben, Petra Noskaiová, Yeree Suh, Conductor: Sigiswald Kuijken, Orchestra/Ensemble: La Petite Bande, Number of Discs: 1. Here is Volume 14, the latest entry in Sigiswald Kuijken's series, "Cantatas for the Complete Liturgical Year." It's a Christmas package, which reached me in time for the season, but unfortunately too late for the end-of-year issue. With a half-dozen complete or pending cantata series now on the market, we can't say that any of these cantatas are hard to come by, but most are available only in the complete sets. Kuijken's series, unfortunately limited to 20 volumes, is intended to demonstrate the validity of Rifkinesque chamber-sized performances. Crucial to the mission is the vocal quartet, and, again, Kuijken has a good one. There are relatively short opening choruses in Cantatas 91 and 122 and closing chorales in the four cantatas, all confidently executed by the singers. As soloists, tenor Christoph Genz and alto Petra Noskaiová have limited responsibilities-a single aria and a single recitative apiece-all done in fine style. Noskaiová also pairs superbly with soprano Gerlinde Sämann in a duet in BWV 91 that deserves wider exposure. Sämann and bass Jan Van der Crabben have more to do, especially in BWV 57, a dialog cantata. Sämann could be a little more forceful in her second aria in BWV 57, but she is particularly effective in it's gentler first aria and in the long opening aria of Cantata 151. Van der Crabben is solid throughout. Kuijken and his Bande are top-notch, as expected. For listeners who prefer their Bach chamber-style, this should be an automatic selection. For others, it will offer an opportunity to compare and reflect. Recommended either way. - FANFARE: George Chien