‘Bach and his rivals’ reviewed in Early Music

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Kevin Sutton reviewed our CD ‘Bach and his rivals’ for Early Music

In another fine outing by the Bach Players, we are treated to music by the competition, as it were. As Hugh Wood and Stephen Pedder point out in their thorough liner notes to ‘Bach and before: cantatas for audition at Leipzig, 1722–3, and for 30 January 1724 in Hamburg, Darmstadt, Leipzig’, Bach’s recognition as perhaps the greatest composer of Western music has cast a long shadow on many of his contemporaries, relegating their music to the ‘also-ran’ category. They hope to help remedy this by presenting music by two other composers who were candidates for Bach’s job in Leipzig. In a lovely pair of discs, we are treated to music – both choral and instrumental – by Georg Telemann and Christoph Graupner. The cantatas, in addition to one by Bach himself, were all submitted to the committee for the job of cantor, which, after considerable ado, was awarded to Bach. One would really be hard pressed to find more elegant and intimate music-making than that of the Bach Players. Every detail is in place in these spacious and resonant recordings with superb playing and singing by all concerned. We should be especially grateful to get such a generous serving of Graupner’s music, whose relative obscurity is our loss indeed.

Early Music, vol. 46, no. 4, 2018