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“When we embarked on the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage in Weimar on Christmas Day 1999 we had no real sense of how the project would turn out. There were no precedents, no earlier attempts to perform all Bach’s surviving church cantatas on the appointed feast day and all within a single year, for us to draw on or to guide us. Just as in planning to scale a mountain or cross and ocean, you can make meticulous provision, calculate your route and get all the equipment in order, in the end you have to deal with whatever the elements – both human and physical – throw at you at any given moment.
“With weekly preparations leading to the performances of these extraordinary works, a working rhythm we sustained throughout a whole year, our approach was influenced by several factors: time (never enough), geography (the initial retracing of Bach’s footsteps in Thuringia and Saxony), architecture (the churches both great and small where we performed), the impact of one week’s music on the next and on the different permutations of players and singers joining and rejoining the pilgrimage, and inevitably, the hazards of weather, travel and fatigue. Compromises were sometimes needed to accommodate the quirks of the liturgical year (Easter falling exceptionally late in 2000 meant that we ran out of liturgical slots for the late Trinity season cantatas, so that they needed to be redistributed among other programmes). Then to fit into a single evening cantatas for the same day composed by Bach over a forty-year span meant deciding on a single pitch (A = 415) for each programme, so that the early Weimar cantatas written at high organ pitch needed to be performed in the transposed version Bach adopted for their revival, real or putative, in Leipzig. Although we had commissioned a new edition of the cantatas by Reinhold Kubik, incorporating the latest source findings, we were still left with many practical decisions to make over instrumentation, pitch, bass figuration, voice types, underlay and so on. Nor did we have the luxury of repeated performances in which to try out various solutions: at the end of each feast-day we had to put the outgoing trio or quartet of cantatas to the back of our minds and move on the the next clutch – which came at us thick and fast at peak periods such as Whitsun, Christmas and Easter.”

John Eliot Gardiner

Vol 1 For the Feast of St John the Baptist BWV 167 / 7 / 30
For the First Sunday after Trinity BWV 75 / 39 / 20

Vol 2 For the Second Sunday after Trinity BWV 2 / 10 / 76
For the Third Sunday after Trinity BWV 21 / 135 / 1044

Vol 3 For the Fourth Sunday after Trinity BWV 24 / 185 / 177
For the Fifth Sunday after Trinity BWV 71 / 131 / 93 / 88

Vol 4 For the Sixth Sunday after Trinity BWV 9 / 170
For the Seventh Sunday after Trinity BWV 186 / 107 / 187

Vol 5 For the Eighth Sunday after Trinity BWV 178 / 136 / 45
For the Tenth Sunday after Trinity BWV 46 / 101 / 102

Vol 6 For the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity BWV 69a / 35 / 137
For the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity BWV 77 / 164 / 33

Vol 7 For the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity BWV 25 / 78 / 17
For the Feast of St Michael and All Angels BWV 50 / 130 / 19 / 149

Vol 8 For the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity BWV 138 / 99 / 51 / 100
For the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity BWV 161 / 27 / 8 / 95

Vol 9 For the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity BWV 148 / 114 / 47 / 226
For the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity BWV 96 / 169 / 116 / 668

Vol 10 For the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity BWV 48 / 5 / 90 /56
For the Feast of the Reformation BWV 79 / 192 / 80

Vol 11 For the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity BWV 162 / 49 / 180
For the Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity BWV 109 / 38 / 98 / 188

Vol 12 For the Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity BWV 55 / 89 / 115 / 60
For the Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity BWV 139 / 163 / 52 / 140

Vol 13 For the First Sunday in Advent BWV 61 / 62 / 36
For the Fourth Sunday in Advent BWV 70 / 132 / 147

Vol 14 For Christmas Day BWV 91 / 110
For the Second Day of Christmas BWV 40 / 121

Vol 15 For the Third Day of Christmas BWV 64 / 151 / 57 / 133

Vol 16 For the Sunday after Christmas BWV 225 / 152 / 122 / 28 / 190

Vol 17 For New Year’s Day BWV 143 / 41 / 16 / 171
For the Sunday after New Year BWV 153 / 58

Vol 18 For Christmas Day BWV 63 / 191
For Epiphany BWV 65 / 123
For the First Sunday after Epiphany BWV 154 / 124 / 32

Vol 19 For the Second Sunday after Epiphany BWV 155 / 3 / 13
For the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany BWV 26 / 81 / 14 / 227

Vol 20 For Septuagesima BWV 144 / 84 / 92
For Sexagesima BWV 18 / 181 / 126

Vol 21 For Quinquagesima BWV 22 / 23 / 127 / 159
For the Annunciation/Palm Sunday/Oculi BWV 182 / 54 / 1

Vol 22 For Easter Sunday BWV 4 / 31
For Easter Monday BWV 66 / 6
For Easter Tuesday BWV 134 / 145

Vol 23 For the First Sunday after Easter BWV 150 / 67 / 42 / 158
For the Second Sunday after Easter BWV 104 / 85 / 112

Vol 24 For the Third Sunday after Easter BWV 12 / 103 / 146
For the Fourth Sunday after Easter BWV 166 / 108 / 117

Vol 25 For the Fifth Sunday after Easter BWV 86 / 87 / 97
For the Sunday after Ascension Day BWV 44 / 150 / 183

Vol 26 For Whit Sunday BWV 172 / 59 / 74 / 34
For Whit Monday BWV 173 / 68 / 174

Vol 27 For Whit Tuesday BWV 1048 / 184 / 175
For Trinity Sunday BWV 194 / 176 / 165 / 12

Vol 28 Cantatas for Ascension Day BWV 43 / 37 / 128
Ascension Oratorio ‘Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen’ BWV 11

The Monteverdi Choir, The English Baroque Soloists, John Eliot Gardiner

Complete tracklist : Bach – Cantatas – Gardiner

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