Bach: Arias from cantatas, Passions,

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COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: DG Archiv
WORKS: Arias from cantatas, Passions,
PERFORMER: Magdalena Kožená (mezzo-soprano); Musica Florea/Marek Štryncl
CATALOGUE NO: 457 367-2
Magdalena Kožená is a Czech mezzo-soprano whose vocal repertoire is wide-ranging, from Bach through Mozart, to the composers of her native country, Dvorák, Janácek and Martinu. This new release contains 11 arias by Bach, seven of them from his rich inventory of cantatas and one each from the St Matthew and St John Passions, the B minor Mass and the Magnificat in D. Her accompaniments are provided by the period-instrument group Musica Florea, directed by Marek Štryncl. Though there is no enduring substitute for encountering these wonderful arias in the tonally and rhythmically related contexts in which Bach set them, nevertheless for the most part, they stand pretty well on their own. Kožená brings linear clarity and expressive warmth to the music. Her vibrato is used discerningly and her technique is both agile and secure. But it does seem a pity that preceding recitatives, especially those which are closely linked, one way or another, to the aria which follows, are omitted. A case in point is that which introduces the most widely known aria in the programme, ‘Schäfe können sicher weiden’ (Sheep may safely graze). The pieces are sung by the same character, they belong together, musically and textually, each losing an important dimension by thoughtless separation. Otherwise, the recital is sympathetic and accomplished. Nicholas Anderson

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