Bach: Easter Cantatas: Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden, BWV 6; Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen, BWV 66

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COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: DG Archiv
WORKS: Easter Cantatas: Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden, BWV 6; Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen, BWV 66
PERFORMER: Bernarda Fink (contralto), Michael Chance (countertenor), Steve Davislim, Mark Padmore (tenor), Julian Clarkson, Dietrich Henschel (bass); Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists/John Eliot Gardiner
CATALOGUE NO: 463 580-2
Few readers by now will be unaware of John Eliot Gardiner’s imaginatively conceived ‘Bach Cantata Pilgrimage’ in celebration of the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death in 1750. It began at Weimar last December with the first three cantatas of the Christmas Oratorio, and has since travelled to Berlin, Leipzig, Hamburg, London, Milan, Romsey Abbey in Hampshire and Christchurch Priory in Dorset. The two cantatas on this disc, the first of 12 CDs which will be issued as souvenirs of Gardiner’s imaginative endeavour, are Easter pieces which Bach first performed in 1724 (BWV 66) and 1725 (BWV 6). The recordings themselves, in fact, were made about a year ago, before the pilgrimage began, presumably with a seasonal release in view. Gardiner has firmly held convictions about how to perform music with which he clearly has a close identity. The character of the joyful, richly scored opening chorus of BWV 66 is distinctively captured with infectious enthusiasm. But it’s a difficult piece and I cannot say that I much liked the intrusive countertenor timbre either here or in the meagre-toned solos. Did Bach really want that kind of sound? I simply cannot believe it. I enjoyed BWV 6 rather more. Bernarda Fink (contralto) makes a fine contribution and there is stylish obbligato playing from Michael Niesemann (oboe da caccia), David Watkin (violoncello piccolo) and Kati Debretzeni (violin). A mixed pleasure. Nicholas Anderson

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