JS Bach: Secular Cantatas, Vol. 3
Bach’s annual salary at Mülhausen included 30 pails of tax-free beer, a jar of which you can clearly imagine him holding as he entertained guests at a wedding, with the absurd Quodlibet which ends this disc. The apparently nonsensical words include some cutting jibes, teasing someone who tried to sail off in a baker’s trough, for instance. Masaaki Suzuki and his singers are at ease with this carefree Bach, introducing the Quodlibet with background babble, and singing with exaggerated nasal accents.
The other three cantatas here are also secular, but with no hint of jest. Indeed, Bach had no qualms about converting BWV173a, including a curious three-section minuet, into a sacred cantata some years later – a thoroughly Lutheran attitude whereby the secular may be sanctified, but the sacred never desecrated. Joanne Lunn has a rather hard edge in the unusual opening recitative, and elsewhere a tight staccato leaves no time for tone to develop. She is, though, much more at ease in the Wedding Cantata BWV202, for soprano soloist throughout, and her lyrical, sustained aria in BWV36c is glorious. Two further high points in BWV36c are a rustic bass dance-aria and the admirable oboes d’amore and strings of the opening choral movement.
After the Chapel acoustic of the sacred cantatas, Suzuki opts here for the drier ambience of a concert hall. Recording balance is excellent, helped by surround-sound.