Bach: Magnificat in D major (CD Review)

Cantata "Ich Hatte viel Bekummernis" BMV 21. Greta de Reyghere, soprano; Rene Jacobs, alto; Christopher Pregarden, tenor; Peter Lika, bass. Sigiswald Kuijken, Nederlands Kamerkoor, La Petite Bande. Virgin Classics 0946 363299-2.

This 1988 Virgin Classics mid-price reissue is one of the most-lively Bach choral interpretations and one of the finest-sounding choral recordings of any Bach music I can remember.

It goes without saying that Sigiswald Kuijken and his La Petite Bande are going to provide as authentic and zesty a performance as one could wish for, but combined with Virgin/EMI's clear, natural sonics, the combination is irresistible. Like Martin Pearlman in a more-recent Telarc period-instruments reading with the Boston Baroque Orchestra, Kuijken chooses to play Bach's revised Magnificat in D-major rather than the earlier one in E-flat (or any of the other revisions Bach apparently made along the way). Many other period conductors prefer the original as somehow being more authentic, but it was Bach himself who revised the piece about ten years after its première, supposedly in order to remove some Christmas hymns that tended to limit its value year round and to lower the key to make it more comfortable for several of the instruments. In any case, both Kuijken and Pearlman with their respective soloists and choirs play it as well as any Magnificats I've heard, thanks to the refined liveliness of both sets of performers.

Where Kuijken and his La Petite Bande have the advantage, though, is the sound. The Telarc is fine, but it doesn't seem as though it has much depth. The engineers made it for multichannel playback, and in two-channel stereo that tended to rob of it some stage dimension. The Telarc also sounds, by comparison to the Virgin release, a bit more clouded, the Virgin more transparent. This is not to take anything away from the Telarc, which is still quite good; it's just that the Virgin recording is better. Yet the Virgin recording never sounds bright or shrill or edgy. It appears perfectly realistic from beginning to end.

The Virgin coupling, Bach's Cantata BMV 21, also comes across well and deserves a place alongside the more-famous Magnificat. It's just that works with descriptive titles tend to stand out in the public's mind more than numbered cantatas. This is a splendid offering in every way.



  1. very informative, Kuijken and Pearlman soloists and choirs sound promising , keep moving

  2. interesting to know how varied is he in his musical expressions, 3 thumbs up for him!


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Meet the Staff
John J. Puccio, Editor, Publisher, Reviewer

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.
Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer

For over 20 years I was the editor of The $ensible Sound magazine and a regular contributor to its classical review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simple-minded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me--point out recordings that I think I might enjoy.

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Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst

I initially embraced classical music in 1954 when I mistuned my car radio and heard the Heifetz recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. That inspired me to board the new "hi-fi" DIY bandwagon. In 1957 I joined one of the pioneer semiconductor makers and spent the next 32 years marketing transistors and microcircuits to military contractors. Home audio DIY projects remained a personal passion until 1989 when we created our own new photography equipment company. I later (2012) revived my interest in two channel audio when we "downsized" our life and determined that mini-monitors + paired subwoofers were a great way to mate fine music with the space constraints of condo living.

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa