WORKS: Neu-gepflanzte Thuringische Lust-Garten (excerpts)
PERFORMER: Midori Suzuki (soprano), Yoshikazu Mera (alto), Gerd Turk (tenor), Stephen Schreckenberger (bass)Bach Collegium Japan, Concerto Palatino/Masaaki Suzuki
CATALOGUE NO: CD-821
This truly international ensemble drawn from Japan, Germany and the USA discloses a Newly Planted Thuringian Pleasure Garden virtually unknown on disc. Johann Rudolf Able (1625-73) worked at St Blasius Church in Muhlhausen (a predecessor there of JS Bach), but his stylistic lineage is clearly from Venice and Gabrieli, via Schiitz. Into his ‘garden’ Ahle ‘transplanted… new spiritual musical plants with three to ten and more parts’. The selection here uses four lucid voices, a cornetto and four trombones, a pair of violins and continue organ.
Ahle wrote as brilliantly as any Italian – the opening Missa brevis a constantly changing kaleidoscope of vocal and instrumental colours; a Nunc dimittis setting with bass and four sonorous trombones. The cornetto is reserved until the end, played with virtuosic sparkle in a strophic chorale setting, foreshadowing Bach’s early cantatas. Another setting disguises a familiar chorale in florid variations – in his own time Ahle was honoured as ‘the German Monteverdi’.
One Magnificat setting, of alternate verses only, lacks the chanted interpolations surely intended – at 56 minutes there’s room for this and more. But don’t miss this revelatory disc. George Pratt