With this release, the 55th, Japanese conductor Masaaki Suzuki and his Bach Collegium Japan reach the end of their magisterial complete cycle of Bach's cantatas, begun in 1995. The cycle ends neither with a bang nor with a whimper, although you do get a touching note from Suzuki, wishing that someone would rediscover cantatas so that he could go on, and a handy index to the entire series. The last albums in the group have covered late cantatas from Bach's Leipzig years, most of which were recycled from other works; Bach saved his unique thoughts for major occasions, not for the workaday world of the cantata. This said, these are intriguing pieces, well-performed as usual. The most unusual is the Cantata No. 30, "Freue dich, erlöste Schar," BWV 30, which was based on a little-known secular cantata, Angenehmes Widerau, BWV 30a ("Pleasant Widerau") Despite the "30a" designation, the secular work came first, and what's unusual is how all the dances and peppy festive music are retained. Suzuki has been at this a long time but does not miss the liveliness of this little piece, or the grander Cantata No. 69, "Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele," BWV 69, or the Cantata No. 191, "Gloria in excelsis Deo," BWV 191, taken directly from the Mass in B minor, BWV 232. Suzuki sticks with the soloists he has favored in the last set, including the utterly distinctive Hana Blaziková and countertenor Robin Blaze, and the careful layering and wonderfully detailed architecture that have been the trademarks of the series are everywhere in evidence. A great many listeners will be sad to see it end.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele, BWV 69|
|Freue dich, erlöste Schar, BWV 30|
|Gloria in excelsis Deo, BWV 191|