For this hybrid SACD of famous organ works by J.S. Bach, Masaaki Suzuki plays the restored Schnitger-Hinz organ in the Martinikerk (Martin's Church), in Groningen, one of the most celebrated instruments in the Netherlands and one which dates back to Bach's time. Its bright, Baroque sonorities and Suzuki's historically informed interpretations give these performances a compelling sense of authenticity and period style. The pieces are among Bach's greatest hits, particularly the Toccata and Fugue in D minor, which gives the program a decisive opening. Following that flashy demonstration, Suzuki is relaxed and almost contemplative in the Pastorale in F major, and continues his thoughtful readings in the Partita on "O Gott, du frommer Gott," the Prelude and Fugue in G minor, and the Canonic Variations on "Vom Himmel hoch da komm' ich her." Yet he includes two sparkling virtuoso performances in the Fantasia in G major and the Prelude and Fugue in E minor, which keep the album from being too soft and subdued. BIS' super audio sound is crisp and detailed, which is no mean feat in a church recording.
In the early 1730s Bach revised his E flat major Magnificat of 1723, transposing it to D major and omitting the interpolations peculiar to Christmas performances in Leipzig. (Recent research suggests such richly scored Latin Magnificats could be performed in Lutheran churches at some 15 annual festivals, not just the three – Xmas, Easter, Ascension – previously supposed.)
The recipient of the 2012 City of Leipzig Bach Medal, Masaaki Suzuki has earned an enviable reputation as an interpreter of the music of J. S. Bach as a reviewer in Intl Record Guide has put it: 'With Suzuki you can hear Bach's heart beat'. To a wide audience he is known as the director of Bach Collegium Japan, and the moving force behind the ensemble's acclaimed recordings of Bach's complete sacred cantatas. Perhaps less well known is that he began his career at the age of 12! playing the organ at church services in Kobe, where he was born. Suzuki has remained true to the organ throughout his life, and for BIS he has previously recorded Bach's German Organ Mass, as well as programs of Buxtehude and Sweelinck. He here appears on a disc combining some of Bach's best-loved works for the instrument, including the D minor Toccata and Fugue, the Partitas on O Gott, du frommer Gott, BWV 767, the Canonic Variations, BWV769, and the celebrated Prelude and Fugue in E minor, BWV548.
]Yoshikazu Mera born May 21, 1971, in Miyazaki, Japan, is a Japanese countertenor. His range is three and a half octaves. Originally wanting to become a pop singer, Mera now primarily sings classical music from the West but also classical Japanese music. He appears frequently as a soloist with the Bach Collegium Japan, which under its conductor Masaaki Suzuki performs Baroque music. His 1998 recital disc "Nightingale" on Sweden's BIS Records was a major success in Japan.
Mozart's Requiem is one of the truly iconic works in the history of music. A prime reason for this is of course its musical qualities; but even before that, legends had begun to form around the work - that it was written to fulfill an anonymous commission received through 'an unknown, grey stranger' - is the stuff of mystery novels, while the fact that Mozart fell ill and died while composing it has been exploited to great melodramatic effect. One thing that we know for certain is that its first performance took place at a memorial service for Mozart only days after his death. The performers used the composer's incomplete autograph, but very soon attempts to complete the work were set in motion by Mozart's widow. In 1800 the Requiem, in Franz Xaver Süssmayr's completion, appeared in print; it is this version that is still by far the most widely performed. Many have tried to improve on it, however, or make their own versions based on the autograph. For this recording, Masaaki Suzuki and the Bach Collegium Japan commissioned a new performing edition.
Since its creation in 1791, Mozart’s Requiem has become one of the truly iconic works in the history of music. For this recording of the work, Masaaki Suzuki and the Bach Collegium Japan commissioned a new performing edition. Masato Suzuki, himself a member of the BCJ and the son of Masaaki, has based his completion on Eybler’s and Süßmayr’s work, explaining his procedure in the liner notes to the disc. The recording was made at the Shoin Chapel in Kobe, where the team has previously recorded their complete cycle of Bach’s church cantatas. A stellar cast of soloists is headed by soprano Carolyn Sampson, who also shines in the famous soprano aria Laudate Dominum – one of the highlights of Vesperae solennes de confessore which conclude the disc.