Bethlehem Bach Choir - Bach: Magnificat BWV 243; Cantata BWV 191; Vivaldi: Gloria RV 589

Bethlehem Bach Choir - Bach: Magnificat BWV 243; Cantata BWV 191; Vivaldi: Gloria RV 589
Bach: Magnificat BWV 243; Cantata BWV 191; Vivaldi: Gloria RV 589
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It's not common to see Canadian recording companies release performances by American ensembles; the key here seems to be the presence of several top Canadian soloists. As it happens, the soloists, choir, and orchestra seem to occupy somewhat separate spheres in this performance of Bach's and Vivaldi's choral standards. The Bach Magnificat in D major, BWV 243, and Vivaldi Gloria in D major, RV 589, are nicely joined with the little Bach Cantata No.

191, another setting of the Gloria in excelsis Deo text, for what the booklet (in French and English) calls a set of "Glorious Glorias." The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, founded in 1898 and resident at an annual festival in Bethlehem, PA, is as old-school in its orientation as one might expect, and it executes the big American choral sound as well as any of its contemporaries. The long notes in the slow sections of the Vivaldi never flag in their intonation, and the sinewy polyphony of the Bach is clear. With 100 members in the choir, you mostly hear choristers and brasses, with just flashes of the small string group of the Bach Festival Orchestra when it ascends to the upper register. The soloists, each of whom apparently holds a named "Endowed Chair" with the choir, are uniformly superb, but perhaps the standout is British-born soprano Julia Doyle, who forges a warm sound to match the choirs in Bach's perilous arias. The sound, from Bethlehem's First Presbyterian Church, is clear and accurate in a situation where the music could easily have overwhelmed the space. No texts are provided; you are directed to Analekta's website, where you have to hunt to find them.

But the texts and translations of them are not hard to locate online. The bottom line: if you like to hear Baroque standards sung by a large mass of vocalists, you should give consideration to this recording.

Magnificat, for 5 voices, 5-part chorus, orchestra & continuo in D major, BWV 243 (BC E14)
1. Coro. Magnificat anima meaBethlehem Bach Choir3:04
2. Aria. Et exsultavit spiritus meusBethlehem Bach Choir2:15
3. Aria. Quia respexitBethlehem Bach Choir2:46
4. Coro. Omnes generationesBethlehem Bach Choir1:22
5. Aria Quia fecit mihi magnaBethlehem Bach Choir2:03
6. Duetto. Et misericordiaBethlehem Bach Choir3:29
7. Coro. Fecit potentiamBethlehem Bach Choir1:56
8. Aria. Deposuit potentesBethlehem Bach Choir2:07
9. Aria. Esurientes implevit bonisBethlehem Bach Choir2:46
10. Trio. Suscepit IsraelBethlehem Bach Choir1:51
11. Coro. Sicut locutus estBethlehem Bach Choir1:30
12. Coro. Gloria PatriBethlehem Bach Choir2:06
Gloria, for 3 solo voices, chorus, trumpet, oboe, violin (ad lib), 2 violas, 2 cellos, strings & continuo in D major, RV 589
1. Coro. Gloria in excelsis DeoBethlehem Bach Choir2:19
2. Coro. Et in terra pax hominibusBethlehem Bach Choir5:12
3. Duetto. Laudamus teBethlehem Bach Choir2:23
4. Coro. Gratias agimus tibiBethlehem Bach Choir0:23
5. Coro. Propter magnum gloriam tuamBethlehem Bach Choir0:55
6. Aria. Domine Deus, Rex coelestisBethlehem Bach Choir3:43
7. Coro. Domine Fili unigeniteBethlehem Bach Choir2:12
8. Coro. Domine Deus, Agnus DeiBethlehem Bach Choir3:47
9. Coro. Qui tollis peccata mundiBethlehem Bach Choir0:41
10. Aria. Qui sedes ad dexteram PatrisBethlehem Bach Choir2:28
11. Coro. Quoniam tu solus sanctusBethlehem Bach Choir0:47
12. Coro. Cum sancto SpirituBethlehem Bach Choir3:13
Cantata No. 191, "Gloria in excelsis Deo," BWV 191 (BC E16)
1. Coro. Gloria in excelsis DeoBethlehem Bach Choir6:14
2. Duetto. Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui sanctoBethlehem Bach Choir4:10
3. Coro. Sicut erat in principioBethlehem Bach Choir4:35

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