Impeccable playing standards, coupled with BIS’s outstandingly clear SACD recording technology and the fine acoustics of the Shoin Women’s University Chapel make these recordings real sonic treasures. If Bach could hear these recordings I am sure he would have been moved beyond words hearing the love and care these players bring to his music.
It is also a clear indicator of the way classical music is expanding in Asia and how our finest practitioners of the near future will most likely be Japanese, Korean or Chinese. There are no post-colonial qualifiers required here – these performances are amongst the finest in the world and clearly have a particular sensibility which favours the most intimate expressions of Bach’s various methods of text painting. It is particularly pleasing to hear Ich Habe Genug BWV 82 sung by a soprano rather than baritone or mezzo, in this case Carolyn Sampson, who effortlessly sustains the line and mood.
The bass Peter Kooij is featured in Cantatas BWV 56 and 158 and he is equally commanding in his delivery, though perhaps not as emotionally engaging as Sampson. The concluding chorales are sung by four singers, one to a part, which seems totally organic in terms of proportions. It is altogether satisfying to see this repertoire continuing to find its way into the world aided by such fine interpretations.