As the cycle of Bach cantatas by Japanese conductor Masaaki Suzuki and his Bach Collegium Japan rolls on, it's instructive to consider some of the specific qualities of this impressive cycle over and above the general Suzuki sound: precise, calm, melodically rich without ever being over-luxurious. All those qualities are present in abundance on this release, along with fine hybrid SACD sound and the BIS label's sensitive engineering work in the Kobe Shoin Women's University Chapel. But Suzuki has also responded intelligently to the particular works at hand. These cantatas of the 1730s represent some of Bach's closest approaches to the new galant style, although you still get weighty contrapuntal opening choruses. The instrumentation is the thing here, with colorful wind groupings and some lovely verses in which the winds and voices are treated as part of the same unit. Check out the charming soprano-and-bass duet "Hat er es denn beschlossen" (track 7) from the Cantata No. 97, "In allen meinen Taten" (BWV 97), where Bach keeps you guessing as to the forces involved with delayed entrances of the vocalists over the constantly chirping bassoon. Czech soprano Hana Blazíková and bass Peter Kooij are both capable of bigger, richer sounds, but Suzuki keeps them reined in with a reedy sound that is perfect for the subtle interactions with the instruments here. So it goes throughout: Suzuki's sound is smooth, but that does not foreclose sensitive treatment of soloists in accordance with the properties of individual works. An unusually pleasurable entry in Suzuki's series.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|In allen meinen Taten, BWV 97|
|Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 177|
|Es ist das Heil uns kommen her, BWV 9|