Bach Collegium Japan perform Bach cantatas led by Masaaki Suzuki
'Joanne Lunn is agile and fleet as the goddess of War, softly seductive in the role of Lust.'
Bach composed these secular cantatas as birthday gifts for the son and the wife of the Elector of Saxony in the early 1730s, later recasting much of the music for the Christmas Oratorio. The originals are allegorical dramas: in BWV 213, the Greek hero Hercules (aka the Elector’s son) resists the heady charms of Lust in preference for Virtue; while in BVW 214 four Greek goddesses sing the praises of the Elector’s wife, Maria Josepha.
Many qualities typical of Masaaki Suzuki’s cantata series are here: lithe choral singing, balletic rhythms, and a detailed yet transparent recorded sound. Joanne Lunn is agile and fleet as the goddess of War, softly seductive in the role of Lust. Countertenor Robin Blaze is lyrical as the goddess Pallas, though rather lightweight as Hercules, sounding ill-at-ease in the tricky aria ‘Ich will dich nicht hören’. Makoto Sakurada’s lucid tenor is particularly effective in the rhetorical and declamatory recitatives, while bass Dominik Wörner paints the words to vivid effect. There’s some top-flight playing by the Bach Collegium Japan, including eloquent obbligato solos by Masamitsu San’nomiya (oboe and oboe d’amore) and Natsumi Wakamatsu (violin). Jean-François Madeuf plays both natural trumpet and horn, the former without the anachronistic vent holes that help the tuning but change the timbre. Though intonation inevitably suffers, his raw but vibrant tone adds a daring splash of colour to the otherwise polished sound.