Hard on the heels of Volume 29 in the Bach Cantata series and their recording of the Orchestral Suites comes this new disc from Bach Collegium Japan. Genre-wise the present two works balance between oratorios and cantatas. Though their format is not far removed from that of the longer cantatas, some differences are obvious: for instance, in its earliest version the soloists in the Easter Oratorio were assigned roles (such as Mary Magdalene and Peter), while the Ascension Oratorio features an Evangelist, filling the same function as in the more monumental Passions. Both works - like the Christmas Oratorio - are, at least in part, so-called parodies: reworkings of secular occasional pieces as sacred compositions by adapting their texts. Such origins may to some extent explain the festive note of these two celebrations of the resurrection of Christ, and his ascension to heaven. The opening instrumental movement of the Easter Oratorio, which uses the theme from 'Erschallet, ihr Lieder' of Cantata BWV 172, resounds with jubilant trumpets and timpani, and the Ascension Oratorio begins with a chorus in which choir and orchestra "praise God in His kingdoms" with the splendour worthy of a great prince. Recent reviews have described Bach Collegium Japan's offerings as 'Bach to an unbelievable perfection' (the Suites) and 'musical beyond belief' (Volume 29), and here is more from the seemingly indefatigable Masaaki Suzuki. On the present disc, Cantata cycle veterans Yukari Nonoshita and Chiyuki Urano are joined by Jan Kobow, whose participation on Volume 22 (BIS-CD-1322) received much praise, and counter-tenor Patrick van Goethem, making his BIS début.
"The performance is full of life, full of Baroque spirit while being strict to the letter of authentic practice. The horns have just the right amount of grit, the strings just bouncy enough. Balances side to side and front to back are perfect. Balance between instruments, chorus and soloists is perfect. The soloists are exceptional, ... So, I’ve sold you on three recordings of this work which as a collector you must have; but if you buy only one recording, buy the Suzuki." Musicweb. uk. net 03 / 2006
"Väl avvägda tempi i dessa tolkningar, där kören är suverän och det ljusa, luftiga och spänstiga orkesterspelet på en liknande nivå som på den i höstas utgivna, förstklassige inspelningnen av de fyra orkestersviterna. Barockexpressiva men discplinerade vokalsolister" SVD 04 / 2006
M. Hengelbrock in FonoForum 08 / 06: "Masaaki Suzukis Chor
besteht aus 16 Sängern, die innerhalb der Stimmgruppen
so klar und beweglich singen, dass sich chorische
Klangfülle, solistische Virtuosität und Transparenz zu
verbinden scheinen, und zwar in einem Grad, den man von
keinem europäischen Ensemble kennt."