A Christmas Greeting - Verbum Caro Factum Est
Bach Collegium Japan Chorus. Masaaki Suzuki, director Masato Suzuki, organ
BIS SACD 2291 TT: 68:21

BACH: Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F, BWV 1046. Brandenburg Concerto No 2 in F, BWV 1047. Brandenburg Concerto No.3 in G, BWV 1048. Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G, BWV 1049. Brandenburg Conerto No. 5 in D, BWV 1050. Brandenberg Concerto No. 6 in B flat, BWV 1051.
Concerto Copenhagen / Lars Uirik Mortensen, cond
CPO 555-158 (2 disks) TT: 41:36 & 52:50

PÄRT: Frtres. Vater Unser. An den Wasseen zu Babel sassen wir und weinten. Pari Intervallo. BACH: Concerto in D minor BWV 973 after Marcello, Concerto in D BWV 972 after Vivaldi. Concerto in C minor BWV 981 after Marcello
Camerata RCO / Jörgen Van Rijen, trombone and director
BIS SACD 2316 TT: 58:32

There are multiple recordings of Bach's six Brandenburg concertos, many on SACD (several have been reviewed on this site). This new one is one of the finest. The concertos are performed by Scandinavia's leading period-music ensemble, Concerto Copenhagen which already has made a dozen rewordings under their founder/director Lars Ulrick Mortensen. Excellent, well-balanced multi-channel sound placing the small ensemble right in the room with the listener. Total playing time for the two disks is only 95 minutes. Considering the competition, and the fact that this set is premium price, surely more music should have been included.

Estonian composer Arvo Pärt seems to have an association with music of J. S Bach according to CD notes with this issue. One of his best-known works if F Fratres (Brothers) which Pärt has arrange for various instruments. Virtuoso trombonist Jörgen Van Rijen has arranged it for trombone, string orchestra and percussion; it is a virtuoso display piece for the soloist. Three other works of the composer also are here, the last, , Pari Intervallo scored for clarinet, trombone and string orchestra And these are separated by three Bach concertos written in the style of Matcello and Vivaldi, in transcriptions by the soloist. Unique and fascinating programming, played with remarkable virtuosity by van Rijn who directs the small chamber orchestra. Recordings were made October 2016 and June 2017 in Holland's Singekerk, and the engineers have provided a warm, natural sonic picture.

Here is a most unusual Christmas recording. It featured little-known and familiar carols sung by the superb Japanese Bach Collegium directed by Masaaki Suzuki, interspersed with short organ works most by Daquin played by Masato Suzuki. The program opens with soprano Aki Matsu's solo performance of the traditiona Verbum Caro Factum Est and includes familiar carols sung in original languages .Recordings were made February / March 2018 in Kobe Shoin Women's University Chapel in Japan, and engineers have captured an appropriately rich, resonant sound. CD notes are in English, German, French and Japanese, and texts are provided.

R.E.B. (February 2019)