Haenssler Releases Budget Bach Cantatas Set

09/01/2011

The German label Haenssler Classics, which has released a box set of Bach’s complete works, has just released – or is about to release, depending on where you live – a box set of the complete cantatas. Unlike most cantata sets, this one includes both secular and sacred cantatas, on 71 CDs.

These recordings, led by Helmut Rilling, are not my favorite overall set, but they do have many good moments, notably the choir and some excellent soloists. One of my biggest gripes is the sound, which at times, features odd separation of instruments. For example, in a movement where a soloist is singing with violin obligato, you may have the violin way over on the left channel, the continuo far to the right, and the soloist in the center. While this is acceptable on speakers, it sounds very poor on headphones.

Nevertheless, given the price – it’s listed for a mere $78 on Amazon.com – it’s worth getting if you like Bach’s cantatas.

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