Founded by Masaaki Suzuki in 1990, the Bach Collegium Japan began its landmark series of Bach's cantatas in 1995. In order to celebrate the ensemble's 20th anniversary - and indeed the 15th anniversary of the start of the cantata cycle - Suzuki has now devised a compilation of some of his personal favourites among the choral movements from the cantatas. The programme of the disc follows the Lutheran liturgical calendar, beginning with Advent and ending with the Feast of the Reformation, a feast which commemorates the day (31st October 1517) on which Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses, the spark that would set off the Reformation in Germany. This disc thus traverses the full range of events and emotions that constitute the church year, from the joyous expectancy of Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, by way of the Passion of Christ, to Bach's elaboration on Martin Luther's own hymn Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott. In his own comments to the ample (82-minutes-and-counting!) selection, Masaaki Suzuki gives his reasons for choosing these particular movements, and also offers two further favourites 'beyond the church year'. These are both pieces which in different ways transcend the boundaries of calendars, churches, religions and even nations: Bach's universally loved setting of Jesus bleibet meine Freude, and Dona Nobis Pacem, the heartfelt prayer for peace for the world from the B minor Mass.
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