JS Bach: Cantatas
Christine Schäfer has previously recorded three of Bach’s cantatas for solo soprano (DG). Now she gives us the remaining three in performances with the Berliner Barock Solisten, a modern instrument group, which plays at today’s concert pitch. The best known piece is Ich habe genug. The most important differences between this version and the usually heard original for solo baritone is a change of key from C minor to E minor and the replacement of the oboe with a flute. These changes can be felt above all in the celebrated slumber aria ‘Schlummert ein’ which Schäfer sings affectingly.
Like Ich habe genug the cantata Ich bin vergnügt is a Leipzig piece with solo parts for oboe and violin. Schäfer gives an athletic account of its dance-like arias, though I find her vibrato a little intrusive. It is in Jonathan Kelly’s oboe playing that the lyrical qualities of the music can more readily be found. The remaining cantata, Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut is the earliest and most extended of the three. Bach performed it at Weimar in 1714, scoring it for oboe, strings, bassoon and continuo. This is a work of vivid contrasts ranging from the grief-laden supplication of its first aria through a chorale with obbligato viola, though here played on a cello, to a joyful conclusion in the character and rhythm of a gigue. Notwithstanding Schäfer’s vibrato, here is an otherwise enjoyable disc with fine woodwind contributions.