From Weimar to Leipzig

J.S. Bach

J.S. Bach


BWV 4 « Christ lag in Todesbanden »
BWV 153 « Schau Lieber Gott wie mein Feind »
BWV 166 « Wo gehest du hin ? »
BWV 156 « Ich steh’ mit einem Fuss im Grabe »

 Céline Scheen, soprano (Maylis de Villoutreys en alternance)
Damien Guillon, contre-ténor et direction musicale
Thomas Hobbs, tenor (Samuel Boden en alternance)
Benoit Arnould, basse

9 musiciens

The programme entitled “From Weimar to Leipzig” follows the artistic evolution of one of history’s most important musical composers – Johann Sebastian Bach – through five Cantatas that best represent his genius work. Johann Sebastian Bach worked several positions in his career – first playing the organ, then as Kapellmeister for the court of Weimar and lastly at the Thomaschule in Leipzig. In his lifetime, he created a vast corpus of pieces including all different instruments – for orchestras – as well as 200 Sacred and Profane cantatas, whose writing reflects the composer’s musical evolutions over time.

The Cantatas selected for this programme were all carefully chosen, and all require four soloist singers as well as an instrumental chamber music ensemble, each part of which is carried by a single solo instrumentalist so the result corresponds as best as possible to performances done in Weimar at the time J.S. Bach was the Kapellmeister there. In Leipzig, J.S. Bach had more performers and musicians, including a children’s choir, an orchestra with about twenty musicians and four soloists who also sang the choruses. However, depending on the liturgic celebration in question, fewer musicians and singers were needed – especially as some of the cantatas are mostly made up of Arias so did not require the presence of a choir or full orchestra, simply a chamber music ensemble made up of four vocal and instrumental soloists, which is one of the main features the Banquet Céleste wishes to support in its programmes.

This vision of a “soloist” interpretation is presented here, to highlight in what way J.S. Bach’s musical writing evolved throughout his life. From Weimar’s very first cantatas still strongly inspired by D. Buxtehude and J. Bruhns, to Leipzig’s cantatas where the mastery of the counterpoint, of rhetoric and of musical architecture, J.S. Bach has always been considered a unique composer who excelled during the Baroque era – an incredible musical genius.

J.S. Bach was an extremely cultivated man, drawing his musical inspiration both from his predecessors and fellow contemporary musicians. He conveyed unique works, a vast summary of the musical styles and thoughts of the time; he both embodied a peak in Western Baroque music and initiated European classicism.

This production received a Project Aid from Brittany’s Regional Division for Cultural Affairs.


“At the head of the tantalising Banquet Céleste – the instrumental ensemble he conducts and sings with – stands the warm, federating countertenor Damien Guillon, aged 34. (…) With his feet however firmly on the ground, Damien Guillon’s career resembles his personality: discrete yet determined, patient and wise. Gilles Macassar

“The Banquet Céleste ensemble demonstrates a very personal approach to these sacred pieces. Listeners can step into the very heart of the music, feel its vibrations, absorb its strong lines more fully and delicately highlight its illuminations.” Antonio Mafra