Bachfest Leipzig: two solid days of Bach “Ring of Cantatas”

Posted on: June 19, 2018

“What will Bachfest Leipzig do for an encore?” writes James Oestreich in Friday’s (6/15) New York Times. “The festival, founded in 1999 to celebrate this city’s favorite musical son … offered a stunning array of events over the weekend. This included a new and remarkable feature, a ‘Ring of Cantatas’: 10 church concerts or Lutheran services with world-class interpreters—John Eliot Gardiner, Masaaki Suzuki, Ton Koopman and Hans-Christoph Rademann—presenting 33 cantatas over 48 hours…. Bach spent his last 27 years (1723-50) in service to St. Thomas Church and School [in Leipzig]. It is also the birthplace of Richard Wagner, whose … ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’ still runs regularly in Bayreuth, just two hours away…. You can’t quite sustain a narrative around these pieces: Bach’s sacred cantatas … are not overtly theatrical…. But he succumbed to no formula, producing works of endlessly imaginative variety. The number 33 ‘coincides nicely with the 333rd anniversary of Bach’s birthday,’ Michael Maul, the festival’s artistic director, wrote in the program book. It jibes, too, with Bach’s fixation on numbers…. But Mr. Maul … long connected with the Bach Archive here, which organizes Bachfest, conceded … that the number 33 came about pretty much by accident.”

Posted June 19, 2018