Elly Ameling – Bach Edition Elly Ameling – Bach Edition Elly Ameling – Bach Edition

Elly Ameling – Bach Edition
Elly Ameling
Catalogue No.
Compiled here for the first time are all of Elly Ameling’s Bach recordings for both Decca and Philips: an ‘original jackets’ treasury of Cantatas, Passions and oratorios which would make a first-rate introduction to the composer’s sacred music, but which for the more experienced listener holds vocal glories in store, and also takes the changing temperature of Bach performance practice during its span.

‘Radiance, then, radiance of tone and personality, that is Elly Ameling’s gift, and as she smiles, sweetly, we hear the smile in the voice.’ So John Steane wrote in his essay on the Dutch soprano in Singers of the Century, and her recordings of Bach preserve and communicate that radiance as much as her celebrated albums of Schubert Lieder.

The earliest recording here is the St. Matthew Passion conducted by Karl Münchinger from 1964, in which Ameling sings all the arias (no double-soloist division to match the double choir and orchestra) as well as the smaller parts such as Pilate’s wife, and she does so with not only a poise but a communicative urgency that seized the attention of countless listeners hearing her for the first time (though by then she had been singing professionally for more than a decade).

Before this recording, she recalled in a later interview, Münchinger had heard her on a German radio broadcast, ‘and said to himself, “There is a Bach singer!” So he told [Decca] that if he was to record any more Bach for them, he must have me as his soprano.’ She went on to bring her special qualities of serenity and pathos to his recordings of the St. John Passion, Easter Oratorio, Magnificat and several cantatas.

Münchinger brought a lighter touch to this music than other German Bach conductors, and his graceful rhythmic feeling paired well with Ameling’s voice, but then so did the more clipped and extrovert, French style of Ernest Ansermet (a single tantalising album of cantatas), the pacier, punchy but compact approach of the oboist-turned-conductor Helmut Winschermann (three albums of cantatas, including a legendary account of Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen), and finally the warmer, more relaxed legato cultivated by Raymond Leppard (two cantata albums).

Both of her Christmas Oratorio recordings (led by Münchinger and Eugen Jochum) feature, dating from 1966 and 1972 respectively, and in both she sings with an ideal voice for the part: bright, a little cool, not exactly forward but with plenty of body, absolutely pure and effortless in coloratura. As another critic remarked, one can no more tire of Elly Ameling in her most congenial repertoire than complain about the regularity of the return of spring: ‘Sure, it’s the same as last time, but the response (like Ameling’s to her songs) is always new.’

This set features a new appreciation of Elly Ameling’s artistry in Bach by the Dutch critic René Seghers, based on a new interview with her, which he conducted at her home in July 2022. Ameling herself contributes an introduction to the set, which will enhance its appeal to all lovers of great (Bach) singing.


CD 1

Cantatas, BWV 199 & 51

Helmut Winschermann

CD 2

Cantatas, BWV 32 & 57

Hermann Prey

Helmut Winschermann

CD 3

Cantatas, BWV 140 & 80

Linda Finnie · Aldo Baldin · Samuel Ramey

Raymond Leppard

CD 4

Cantatas, BWV 84, 52 & 209

Raymond Leppard

CD 5

Cantatas, BWV 130, 101 & 67

Helen Watts · Werner Krenn · Tom Krause

Ernest Ansermet

CD 6

Cantata, BWV 10

Helen Watts · Werner Krenn · Marius Rintzler

Magnificat, BWV 243

Hanneke van Bork · Helen Watts · Werner Krenn · Tom Krause

Karl Münchinger

CD 7

Missae breves, BWV 235 & 236

Birgit Finnilä · Theo Altmeyer · William Reimer

Helmut Winschermann

CDs 8–9

Mass in B minor, BWV 232

Yvonne Minton · Helen Watts

Werner Krenn · Tom Krause

Karl Münchinger

CDs 10–12

Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244

Peter Pears · Hermann Prey · Marga Höffgen · Fritz Wunderlich · Tom Krause

Karl Münchinger

CDs 13–14

Johannes-Passion, BWV 245

Julia Hamari · Werner Hollweg · Hermann Prey · Dieter Ellenbeck · Walter Berry

Karl Münchinger

CD 15

Osteroratorium, BWV 249

Helen Watts · Werner Krenn · Tom Krause

Karl Münchinger

CDs 16–17

Weihnachts-Oratorium, BWV 248

Helen Watts · Peter Pears · Tom Krause

Karl Münchinger

CDs 18–20

Weihnachts-Oratorium, BWV 248

Brigitte Fassbaender · Horst Laubenthal · Hermann Prey

Eugen Jochum


“Elly Ameling, in particular, sings with warmth and tenderness and with a delightfully sweet and pure tone.” High Fidelity, July 1969 (Easter Oratorio)

 “Elly Ameling, at the top of her form, is the perfect Bach soprano.” Gramophone, July 1969 (Easter Oratorio)

 “Elly Ameling proves once again to be the Bach soprano par excellence. In the Cantata, she carries off a vigorous and agitated aria stamped from the same florid mold as the solo Cantata, Jauchzet Gott, with confidence and élan.” High Fidelity, January 1970 (Magnificat & BWV10)

 “Elly Ameling shows herself the most perfect Bach soprano now before the public.” Gramophone, April 1970 (Magnificat & BWV10)

 “The ideal Bach soprano.” Gramophone, April 1971 (BWV 32 & 57)

 “Ameling and Krenn are simply superb in the ‘Domine Deus’; their conception and vocal qualities are in perfect accord throughout.” High Fidelity, June 1971 (Mass in B minor)

 “Simply exquisite performance … Miss Ameling is superb here; her feeling for the religious sentiment could not be greater, and her lovely voice copes magnificently with the taxing technical demands of Jauchzet Gott, as well as with the more intimate sections of both works … Don’t miss this one.” Stereo Review, June 1971 (BWV 51 & 199)

 “Needless to say, Ameling’s grasp of the stylistic requirements is unsurpassed … Ameling et. Al. do a superb job with the cantata.” High Fidelity, July 1971 (Magnificat & BWV10)

 “Perfect in every way … The second aria is sung as freshly and prayerfully as the words suggest … and the ‘Alleluia’ is pure joy throughout.” Gramophone, August 1971 (BWV 51 & 199)

 “Elly Ameling’s contributions rate superlatives … This disc belongs to the increasing list of the best Bach cantata performances on discs.” Stereo Review, June 1971 (BWV 32 & 57)

 “Ameling, the soprano on both [recordings], is her usual lovely, unaffected self.” High Fidelity, February 1974 (Christmas Oratorio)

 “Miss Ameling is quoted as saying that her dearest desire is to achieve a probably unattainable perfection, but she does achieve just that in the echo aria from the Christmas Oratorio [and] in Jauchzet Gott.” Gramophone, July 1975 (‘The Delectable Elly Ameling’)

 “Elly Ameling’s tones are as pure and exquisite as ever.” Stereo Review, February 1983 (BWV 52, 84 & 209)

 “The warmth of Bach’s music and the spirit of the text well suit Elly Ameling’s vocal temperament and she brings a radiance to her performance which recalls that of Agnes Giebel.” Gramophone, November 1983 (BWV 52, 84 & 209)