Hugh Canning
The Sunday Times
January 2005

In 1999 and 2000, Gardiner’s Monteverdi Choir, EBS and teams of hand-picked soloists undertook a pilgrimage, performing all of Bach’s almost 200 church cantatas as closely as possible to the liturgical dates for which they were written. DG’s Archiv label planned to record the concerts and issue a complete edition, but it released only selected “highlights” and left Gardiner’s company with a hole in its budget. That, happily, has been filled thanks to “donors”, and Gardiner now has his own SDG label — short for Soli Deo Gloria (To God’s Glory Alone), which Bach wrote at the bottom of his manuscripts. In the Gardiner household, it probably also stands for Sod Deutsche Grammophon. These are fine performances, full of verve and spontaneity.

The first releases comprise cantatas written for the Feast of John the Baptist and the first, 15th and 16th Sunday after Trinity. Only two (Jauchzet Gott, BWV 51, and O Ewigkeit, Du Donnerwort, BWV 20) are among Bach’s best-known, but there is treasure-trove here, with notable solos from Mark Padmore, Wilke te Brummelstroete and Dietrich Henschel.

The Sunday Times