Bach Collegium Japan

By John von Rhein

Chicago audiences have had to bide their time before hearing the Bach Collegium Japan in concert.

The esteemed ensemble, founded in Japan in 1990 by conductor and keyboardist Masaaki Suzuki, has pioneered period-instrument performances throughout that nation. Although he has been bringing a touring version of the collegium to New York and elsewhere in the U.S. since the early 2000s, the group's had not appeared in the Chicago area until Thursday night's concert at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel at the University of Chicago, part of the UChicago Presents early music series.

The players' global reputation as interpreters of J.S. Bach's music has been firmly established by their recordings, on the BIS label, of the complete Bach church cantatas, a monumental undertaking Suzuki and friends began in 1995 and completed last year. So it seemed fitting that their program of Baroqueinstrumental and vocal works on Thursday should be anchored by one of the greatest and best-known of the composer's sacred works, Cantata No. 51 ("Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen").

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