J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Twenty-First Century Bach

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Kathy Geisler
Accompaniment/Orchestra:synthesized and sampled sounds, sculptured iteratively using Macintosh and NeXT computers
Individual Works:Selections from the cantatas of J.S. Bach:

  • Liebster Gott, wann werd' ich sterben?
    chorus from cantata 8, BWV8

  • Aus Liebe will main Heiland sterben
    aria from the St Matthew Passion, BWV244

  • Wir eilen mit schwachen
    duet from cantata 78, BWV78

  • Mache dich, mein Geist, bereit
    chorus from cantata 115, BWV115

  • Die Seele Ruht in Jesu Handen
    aira from cantata 127, BWV127

  • Mein teurer Heiland, las dich fragen
    aria from the St John Passion, BWV245

  • Was die Seele kanner gotzen
    aria from cantata 30, BWV30

  • Nun werschwindern alle Plagen
    duet from cantata 32, BWV32

  • Nun, ich weis, du wirst mir stillen
    chorale fromcantata 105, BWV105

  • Wirf, mein Herze
    aria from cantata 155, BWV155

  • Sonatina
    first movement from cantata 106, BWV106

  • Jesus bleibet meine Freude
    chorale from cantata 147, BWV147
  • Format:Compact Disc
    Record Label:Well-Tempered Productions
    Catalog Number:WPT 5160
    Year Released/Recorded:1992
    Total Playing Time:57:46
    Related Web Site:http://www.scapecast.com/onworld/CMO/21stCBachCDpg.html
    Comments:Review by Jan Hanford:

    In the Wendy Carlos tradition of synthesised Bach, but...

    The sounds used on the recording sometimes sound like the old analog sounds of Switched-on Bach, although the entire cd was produced entirely on computer. It's quite a technological achievement and the realisations are crisp and exact. The cd is very polished, pretty and professional done but not very exciting.

    The idea of electronically recreating cantata movements is brilliant. However, I would have been excited if she had used a vocoder or other synthetic vocal device for the choir parts in order to reproduce the actual text of the cantata, rather than a nondescript vocal sample that always seems to be singing "ah." And it sounds like it is all sopranos, the male vocal parts are undermixed. I've heard male vocal sampling and it can sound very real. But it's missing here. An interpretation with vocoded choir and vibrant synthesised instruments would have taken more chances, and more likely succeeded.

    Also, all the sounds are recorded "flat," there is little or no ambient reverberation. This gets really tiring after a while, the sound never changes. My ears were desperate for some sonic variation which didn't happen. The bell-like textures are also over-used. Finally, on track 11, she uses a non-vibrato string-ish sound that is one of the most interesting on the album. I would have preferred more of that and less of the tinkling.

    However, the last track "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" with a harp sound and the "ah" choir singing above it is really lovely. Perhaps this track belongs on a cd of different Bach selections, rather than all canatas. But do we really need another electronic "Bach's greatest hits"? Probably not, since Wendy Carlos already did it brilliantly more than once and she will be hard to top.

    I recommend this cd for anyone who is a synthesised Bach enthusiast, and I know there are a lot of them. But be warned that the recording is very tame. It is definitely in the "new age" genre of music, to play as background when you have guests for dinner.

    Acknowledgements:From the collection of Jan Hanford.
    Date First Submitted:02/16/1997