In June 1995, a virtually unknown group of Japanese musicians embarked on the monumental task of recording the complete sacred cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach. Almost eighteen years later, on 23rd February 2013, the Bach Collegium Japan and Masaaki Suzuki – by then household names in the international music world – reached their goal, as they finished recording the 55th disc in a series which in the meantime had met with overwhelming acclaim worldwide. Made in conjunction with the final cantata recording, this film commemorates the occasion. Besides filmed performances of the three last cantatas – Gloria in excelsis Deo, BWV191, Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele, BWV69 and Freue dich, erlöste Schar, BWV30 – the film includes interviews with Masaaki Suzuki and key members of Bach Collegium Japan as well as behind-the-scenes footage.
In the early 70's, jazz pianist and composer Hiromasa 'Colgen' Suzuki and his self-titled trio (with Kunimitsu Inaba on bass and Hideo Sekine on drums) started working on a project of musicians which should have made a lengthy series of concept albums mixing jazz rock and world music called Rock Joint. Musicians that worked around this albums were more of jazz background and some of the musicians stayed in the line-up of both albums released as Rock Joint projects even though the style of music was slightly different; first 'Rock Joint Biwa' was centered around the japanese instrument biwa, giving a fresh feel to album's early jazz influenced psychedelic rock (conceptually inspired by mythology in the ancient book Furukotofumi), while the second one 'Rock Joint Cither' was oriented around sitar and Indian music…
As the mysterious opening bars of the Kyrie gradually emerge into the light, we know that this recording of Mozart’s glorious Great Mass in C minor is a special one: the tempi perfect, the unfolding drama of the choral writing so carefully judged, and, above it all, the crystalline beauty of soloist Carolyn Sampson’s soprano, floating like a ministering angel. Masaaki Suzuki’s meticulous attention to detail, so rewarding in his remarkable Bach recordings, shines throughout this disc, the playing alert, the choir responsive, the soloists thrilling. And there is the bonus of an exhilarating Exsultate, Jubilate with Sampson on top form.
The recipient of the 2012 City of Leipzig Bach Medal, Masaaki Suzuki has earned an enviable reputation as an interpreter of the music of J. S. Bach as a reviewer in Intl Record Guide has put it: 'With Suzuki you can hear Bach's heart beat'. To a wide audience he is known as the director of Bach Collegium Japan, and the moving force behind the ensemble's acclaimed recordings of Bach's complete sacred cantatas. Perhaps less well known is that he began his career at the age of 12! playing the organ at church services in Kobe, where he was born. Suzuki has remained true to the organ throughout his life, and for BIS he has previously recorded Bach's German Organ Mass, as well as programs of Buxtehude and Sweelinck. He here appears on a disc combining some of Bach's best-loved works for the instrument, including the D minor Toccata and Fugue, the Partitas on O Gott, du frommer Gott, BWV 767, the Canonic Variations, BWV769, and the celebrated Prelude and Fugue in E minor, BWV548.
The longtime lead vocalist for Krautrock pioneers Can, Kenji "Damo" Suzuki was born in Japan on January 16, 1950. An expatriate street poet inspired by Jack Kerouac's On the Road, he spent the better part of the late 1960s wandering through Europe, and while busking outside a cafe in Munich in May of 1970 was discovered by Can members Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit; asked to replace the group's former frontman Malcolm Mooney, Suzuki joined them onstage that very night, making his recorded debut later that same year on the LP Soundtracks. With Suzuki in the lineup, Can produced its most enduring and innovative work, including classic LPs like 1971's Tago Mago, 1972's Ege Bamayasi and 1973's Future Days; however, upon completing work on the latter, he left the band to become a Jehovah's Witness. Absent from music for a decade, in 1983 Suzuki began showing up unannounced to perform at shows by the band Dunkelziffer, eventually joining the group full-time and recording a pair of LPs; in 1998, he founded the Damo's Network label, issuing a series of live recordings including V.E.R.N.I.S.S.A.G.E., Seattle and the seven-CD box set P.R.O.M.I.S.E..