JS Bach: Cantatas BWV 82, 178 & 102

Album title:
JS Bach
JS Bach
Cantatas BWV 82, 178 & 102
Elisabeth Hermans (soprano), Petra Noskaiová (mezzo-soprano), Christoph Genz (tenor), Jan Van der Crabben (bariton); Le Petite Bande/Sigiswalk Kuijken
Catalogue Number:
ACC 25303
BBC Music Magazine
Kuijken is uncompromisingly in the ‘one-voice-to-a-part’ camp for Bach cantatas as his expansive notes, exuberantly full of italics and bold emphases, make clear. He also expounds a theory about Bach’s bass string instrument being at 8’ pitch rather than an octave below; the resulting textures are refreshingly light and clean. BWV178 strongly supports the solo-voice principle with a movement comprising chorale phrases interrupted by three fragments of recitative. First come two stunning arias for bass, followed by a glorious trio sonata – oboes d’amore and bass – wrapped around the tenor’s chorale phrases. With excellent recording balance and SACD sound, this is unbeatable among its relatively few competitors. For the uniquely scored BWV82 Kuijken accompanies the solo bass with pairs of violins above viola and cello, adding oboe da caccia to the upper line of the exquisitely peaceful and reassuring ‘slumber aria’ with which the aged Simeon greets death. The resulting top-weighted balance and density detract from Bach’s supreme contrapuntal craftsmanship; nowhere are distinctive instrumental parts more perfectly interlaced, as Parrott’s solo Taverner Players demonstrated all of 21 years ago, accompanying David Thomas. The vocal demands of BWV102 could again support the case for single voices – fast solo fragments and virtuosic fugal passages – and Kuijken’s soloists create a light, airy texture. But Koopman’s 19 singers, taking it a touch slower, still sustain a crystal clarity, while his choice of flute rather than violin for the final aria reveals a strikingly different character from Kuijken’s obbligato violin. George Pratt
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