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Elly Ameling

Elly Ameling Bach Edition (20CD Boxset)

Compiled here for the first time are all of Elly Ameling’s Bach recordings for both Decca and Philips: an ‘original jackets’ treasury of Cantatas, Passions and oratorios which would make a first-rate introduction to the composer’s sacred music, but which for the more experienced listener holds vocal glories in store, and also takes the changing temperature of Bach performance practice during its span.

"Radiance, then, radiance of tone and personality, that is Elly Ameling’s gift, and as she smiles, sweetly, we hear the smile in the voice." So John Steane wrote in his essay on the Dutch soprano in Singers of the Century, and her recordings of Bach preserve and communicate that radiance as much as her celebrated albums of Schubert Lieder. The earliest recording here is the St. Matthew Passion conducted by Karl Münchinger from 1964, in which Ameling sings all the arias (no double-soloist division to match the double choir and orchestra) and the bit-parts such as Pilate’s wife, and she does so with not only a poise but a communicative urgency that seized the attention of countless listeners hearing her for the first time (though by then she had been singing professionally for more than a decade). Before this recording, she recalled in a later interview, Münchinger had heard her on a German radio broadcast, "and said to himself, “There is a Bach singer!” So he told [Decca] that if he was to record any more Bach for them, he must have me as his soprano." She went on to bring her special qualities of serenity and pathos to his recordings of the St. John Passion, Easter Oratorio, Magnificat and several cantatas. Münchinger brought a lighter touch to this music than other German Bach conductors, and his graceful rhythmic feeling paired well with Ameling’s voice, but then so did the more clipped and extrovert, French style of Ernest Ansermet (a single tantalising album of cantatas), the pacier, punchy but compact approach of the oboist-turned-conductor Helmut Winscherma.

CD 1 Cantatas, BWV 199 & 51 Maurice André · Helmut Winschermann CD 2 Cantatas, BWV 32 & 57 Hermann Prey · Helmut Winschermann CD 3 Cantatas, BWV 140 & 80 Linda Finnie · Aldo Baldin · Samuel Ramey Raymond Leppard CD 4 Cantatas, BWV 84, 52 & 209 Raymond Leppard CD 5 Cantatas, BWV 130, 101 & 67 Helen Watts · Werner Krenn · Tom Krause Ernest Ansermet CD 6 Cantata, BWV 10 Helen Watts · Werner Krenn · Marius Rintzler Magnificat, BWV 243 Hanneke van Bork · Helen Watts Werner Krenn · Tom Krause Karl Münchinger CD 7 Missae breves, BWV 235 & 236 Birgit Finnilä · Theo Altmeyer · William Reimer Helmut Winschermann CDs 8–9 Mass in B minor, BWV 232 Yvonne Minton · Helen Watts Werner Krenn · Tom Krause Karl Münchinger CDs 10–12 Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244 Peter Pears · Hermann Prey · Marga Höffgen Fritz Wunderlich · Tom Krause Karl Münchinger CDs 13–14 Johannes-Passion, BWV 245 Julia Hamari · Werner Hollweg Hermann Prey · Dieter Ellenbeck Walter Berry Karl Münchinger CD 15 Osteroratorium, BWV 249 Helen Watts · Werner Krenn · Tom Krause Karl Münchinger CDs 16–17 Weihnachts-Oratorium, BWV 248 Helen Watts · Peter Pears · Tom Krause Karl Münchinger CDs 18–20 Weihnachts-Oratorium, BWV 248 Brigitte Fassbaender Horst Laubenthal · Hermann Prey Eugen Jochum