J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Bach's Hunt Cantata

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Roy Goodman
Accompaniment/Orchestra:The Parley of Instruments
Soloists:Emma Kirkby
Jennifer Smith
Simon Davies
Michael George
Individual Works:Sheep May Safely Graze
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Hyperion
Catalog Number:CDA66169
Year Released/Recorded:1985
Total Playing Time:50min
Comments:Peter R Elem said:

Prefaced by Brandenburg Concerto #1 first movement. Period instruments... Including famous "Sheep may Safely Graze"

Alastair Asher said:

This is presented as a reconstruction of Bach's 'Hunt' cantata ('was mir behagt, ist die muntre jagd'), as it would have been performed at Weissenfels in 1713. The occasion Bach composed it for was a birthday celebration of a prince of some sort, who apparently liked hunting. The subject matter is concerned with hunting, love, and praising the Prince lavishly, all done by the relevant figures from classical mythology. The famous aria for Pales known as 'sheep may safely grave' is for soprano, two recorders and continuo (here cello and theorbo) - it must be heard properly done here, and is something one is not likely to forget.
An interesting facet of the reconstruction effort is that they used the early version of Brandenburg concerto no.1 for the introductory sinfonia and closing movements. The reasoning is that it is in the same key and has the same scoring. Hearing it with the cantata, it sounds so natural, so clearly right, that it feels like one has stumbled on a marvellous discovery. The trio BWV 1040 is included after one of the later duets. It was appended to the score but placed after the duet because it appears there in the corresponding church cantata (Bach later adapted parts of BWV 208 for other cantatas), and it shares thematic material with the preceding movement. It sounds perfectly natural.
The performances are excellent; done in period-performance style, and with one player to a part.
This is a wonderful experience. It is almost possible to imagine what it was like to be in rural Germany in the 18th century, with Bach at the harpsichord, presenting this cantata surrounded by princely society.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Peter R Elem
  • Alastair Asher
Date First Submitted:11/16/1997