About this Recording
8.550763 - BACH, J.S.: Magnificat in D Major, BWV 243 / Ich habe genug, BWV 82

J. S. Bach (1685 - 1750)

Magnificat in D, BWV 243
Cantata Ich habe genug, BWV 82

These works both received their first performances in Leipzig – the Magnificat in 1723 and Cantata 82 in 1727. It was in 1723 that Bach had taken up the post of Kantor at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, having previously been Kapellmeister to Prince Leopold in Cöthen. The Magnificat was originally heard in a version in E flat major at Christmas Vespers when movements with seasonal texts were inserted; the version included on this disc was rendered by Bach some years later, returning to the ordinary Magnificat text in order to make the work performable all year round. Bach's approach to the evening canticle is characteristically large-scale. There is no use of recitative, owing perhaps to the poetic nature of the text: the verses have little natural hierarchy and it is appropriate that they should all be afforded extended settings. The scoring is unusually rich and includes three trumpets, two flutes, two oboes, strings, continuo, and timpani - one of the largest ensembles to be assembled at the Thomaskirche in Bach's time. Bach takes a literal view of the text in which, for instance, the full five-part choir is used to demonstrate Omnes generationes (" All generations") with soloists used for the more reflective movements. In a typically Bachian gesture the opening material returns for Sicut erat in principio (" As it was in the beginning").

Cantata 82 (Ich habe genug) was written for the Feast of the Purification (2nd February) in 1727. In accordance with the principles of Pietism the text does not refer directly to a biblical event (in this case, the reaction of Simeon to the experience of seeing the infant Jesus in the temple), but obliquely, in paraphrase. It reflects upon approaching death, depicting a progression from resignation to the end of earthly life in the first aria to positive joy at the prospect of eternal life in the last. The cantata form as we encounter it here is a cross between the German 18th-century church cantata and the Italian cantata spirituale in that it contains a sequence of arias separated by recitative, but was intended for church use. Part of Bach's work as Kantor involved the provision of a cantata every Sunday for performance at the Hauptgottesdienst, or main service. Considering that his singers were culled from the local Thomasschule, it was imperative that the bulk of the music be left to competent soloists, and in several of Bach's cantatas the chorus sings only a chorale at the end. A few, such as Ich habe genug, are written entirely for one soloist. The three arias that form the bulk of this cantata are all superb examples of Bach's artistry. The outer movements share the time-signature of 3/8, but could not be more different in character, the first highly reminiscent of Erbarme, dich from the St. Matthew Passion, the last a gigue whose eloquent melismas graphically illustrate the idea of final release and joy. The middle movement, Schlummert ein, uses falling phrases and subdominant inflexions to represent sleep.

Schola Cantorum
Schola Cantorum is Oxford University's longest-running chamber choir. It was founded in 1960 by the Hungarian dissident Laszló Heltay, and over the last three decades many of the choir' s former members have become involved in professional music at the highest levels. Former singers include Emma Kirkby and Jane Glover, while Andrew Parrott, Nicholas Cleobury, and Ivor Bolton are among the choir's former conductors. Schola Cantorum's patrons are Sir Michael Tippett and Lord Menuhin, and for specific projects the choir has worked under Leonard Bernstein, Gunstav Leonhardt, Sir Colin Davis, and Sir Neville Marriner as well as Britten, Tippett, and Stravinsky in performances of their own music, since 1990 Schola Cantorum has been conducted by Jeremy Summerly under whom the choir has released many recordings and has toured extensively, both in Britain and abroad.

Jeremy Summerly
Jeremy Summerly studied Music at New College, Oxford from where he graduated with First Class Honours in 1982. For the next seven years he worked for BBC Radio and it was during this time that he founded the Oxford Camerata and undertook postgraduate research at King's College, London. In 1989 he became a lecturer at the Royal Academy of Music and in the following year he was appointed conductor of Schola Cantorum of Oxford. In 1991 he signed a long-term contract with Naxos to record a variety of music with Schola Cantorum of Oxford and the Oxford Camerata.

Northem Chamber Orchestra, Manchester
Formed in 1967, the orchestra has established itself as one of England 's finest chamber ensembles. Though often augmented to meet the requirements of the concert programme, the orchestra normally contains 24 musicians and performs both in concert and on disc without a conductor. Their repertoire ranges from the baroque era to music of our time, and they have gained a reputation for imaginative programme planning.

Concerts take the orchestra throughout the North of England and it has received four major European bursaries for its achievements in the community. With a series of recordings for Naxos the orchestra makes its debut on disc.

Nicholas Ward
Nicholas Ward was born in Manchester, the son of parents who met when they became members of the Hallé Orchestra. At the age of twelve he formed his own string quartet which remained together for five years until he entered the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Having studied with Yossi Zivoni in Manchester and André Gertler in Brussels, he moved to London in 1977where he joined the Melos Ensemble and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. " In 1984 he became co-leader of the City of London Sinfonia and leader of the Northern Chamber Orchestra to which he was subsequently appointed Musical Director.

Nicholas Gedge
Nicholas Gedge was born in Brecon, Wales and read Law at Cambridge University before taking up a postgraduate scholarship to study singing at the Royal Academy of Music. He was supported by awards from the Countess of Munster Musical Trust and the Wolfson and Leverhulme Foundations and was awarded The Silver Medal of the Worshipful Company of Musicians and the Queen's Commendation for Excellence. Since then he has sung Leporello, Charon, Sourin, Colline, Inspector Otto, and Theseus, while on the concert platform his performances have included the Bach Passions, Messiah, The Creation, and Belshazzar's Feast.

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