Our most familiar image of Johann Sebastian Bach is that of Cantor of the Thomaskirche in Leipzig.
For twentyseven years he was responsible for the church music on Sundays and feast days in the town’s four main churches. For this purpose he composed his many cantatas, the now worldfamous passions and the six motets. The enormous number of cantatas (an estimated 250) written by Bach in Leipzig, combined with their outstanding quality, is one of the most astonishing creative achievements in western culture. For their performance he selected the best choral singers from the pupils of the nearby Thomasschule and students from Leipzig University. In his Componirstube, or composing parlour, Bach handled his musical material with scrupulousness and selfassurance. In so doing, the practice of borrowing, or readapting existing music to fulfil urgent daytoday requirements, was no unusual matter. It was also a way of drawing attention to forgotten pieces, and a sign that Bach was well aware of the enduring quality of his music. This CD presents a wonderful anthology of gems from Bach’s huge output of cantatas. The soprano soloist takes the leading role, and expresses a wide range of human emotions from angst and deep despair to trust, joie de vivre and exuberant jubilation. A comforting or cheerful oboe or cello is often at her side, and she becomes closely engaged with them in moving or lively dialogues.