This seventh volume of the complete cantatas is exclusively given over to works from the first cycle of Leipzig cantatas of 1723/24. When Bach became Thomaskantor in Leipzig, he knew that he was taking on a post that was one of the richest in tradition and most important in the sphere of church music in Protestant Germany. From the latter part of the 17th century on, the cantata came to replace the Gospel motet, which had been used in church services in Protestant Germany since the time of the Reformation to underline the content of the prescribed reading from the Gospel.
The sixth volume of our complete recording of Bach's cantatas inaugurates the long series of sacred cantatas written during the composer's years in Leipzig. With a single exception, the cantatas included in the present release belong to the first annual cycle and date from 1723/24.The cycle begins with Cantatas 75 and 76, with which the recently installed Thomaskantor took up his new appointment in April 1723.
The fifth volume of our complete recording of Bach’s cantatas completes the series of secular cantatas from the composer’s years in Leipzig. Seven works are involved here, spanning a period from 1725 to 1742, the year of Bach’s final secular cantata, BWV 212. Of Bach’s occasional compositions, some fifty secular pieces have survived, yet these represent no more than a fraction of what must once have existed. Indeed, there is no other group of works by the composer that has suffered such great – and regrettable – losses. In the case of more than half of the works that are known to have existed, only the words, but not the music, survived. Quite how many pieces may have disappeared without leaving any trace whatsoever is impossible to say.
The third volume of our complete recording of Bach's cantatas comprises works drawn from three different categories. First comes a group of seven sacred cantatas from the years 1714-17, the majority of which were written for the Weimar Schloßkirche. Taken together with the cantatas contained in Volumes 1 and 2,these seven works - Cantatas 54,63,155, 161,162,163 and 165 - form the group of 23 sacred cantatas that have survived complete from the years leading up to the end of Bach's term of office as Konzertmeister to the Weimar court in 1717.
The fourth volume of our complete recording of Bach's cantatas completes the series of secular cantatas from the composer's years in Leipzig. Seven works are involved here, spanning a period from 1725 to1742, the year of Bach's final secular cantata, BWV 212. Of Bach's occasional compositions, some fifty secular pieces have survived, yet these represent no more than a fraction of what must once have existed. Bach's secular cantatas cover a period of almost exactly three decades.
In the autumn of 1713, Bach was invited to apply for the post of organist and music director at the Marktkirche in Halle in succession to Handel's teacher, Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow. Bach was honoured to accept the invitation and in doing so made it clear that he was keen to extend his activities. Under Zachow, who had created a respectable repertory of sacred works of the most varied genres, including a large number of church cantatas, music in Halle had flourished and reached a level that offered Bach an area of responsibility that he evidently found attractive.
Francesco Cavalli succeeded Monteverdi as the most influential composer of the new genre of opera that emerged in mid-17th-century Venice. Il Xerse is a fictitious dramma per musica that tells of Persian King Xerxes’ love for Romilda, who in turn is in love with his brother Arsamene. The plot is an entertaining and extremely intricate human comedy of crossed loves, court intrigues and disguises – the work’s popularity saw it staged in Paris at the wedding of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa of Spain. Since overshadowed by Handel’s later Xerxes, this Martina Franca production is the first in modern times.
Marie Leonhardt, comme son mari Gustav, fait partie des artistes qui ont redonné vie à la musique baroque à partir des années 1950. Violoniste, elle a aussi animé durant des années l'Ensemble Baroque de Mateus, du nom du magnifique palais portugais où elle réunissait ses musiciens. Cet enregistrement, initialement paru en 1993, est le seul réalisé par cet ensemble. Il donne à entendre un programme composé de chaconnes et passacailles baroques, ces danses construites sur des structures répétitives qui connurent une fortune immense aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles. A cette réédition s'ajoute un enregistrement inédit par Marie Leonhardt de la Chaconne pour violon seul de Bach, réalisé en 2003. Un très grand disque, au delà des modes.