Bach: Cantatas BWV198, 201, 204, 209, 211, 214 & 215

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WORKS: Cantatas BWV198, 201, 204, 209, 211, 214 & 215
PERFORMER: Vocal soloists; Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir/Ton Koopman
CATALOGUE NO: 0630-15562-2
With the exception of one work, the cantatas featured in the fourth volume of Ton Koopman’s projected complete survey are secular pieces for a variety of different occasions. But what an exception the odd man out is – ‘Lass, Fiirstin, lass noch einen Strahl’ (BWV 198) ranks among Bach’s very finest tributes to the departed, in this instance Christiane Eberhardine, Electress of Saxony and Queen of Poland, and from start to finish is musically sustained to an extent found only in pieces of the greatest stature. Koopman and his musicians affectingly realise the elegiac character of the two choral laments which frame the cantata while the solo contributions are declaimed with clarity and fervour. The remaining programme consists of three ‘drammae per musicae’ (BWV 201, 214&215), somewhat weak in plot but Herculean in their musical strength, two solo cantatas (BWV 204 & 209) and, best known by far among the assembled company, the Coffee Cantata (W/V2U). Nevertheless, in BWV 214 readers will encounter music that has become much more familiar through its later inclusion in the Christmas Oratorio. Such self-borrowing was Bach’s frequent practice and he was ingenious at it. In earlier issues of the series Koopman’s soloists have not always been either well-matched or entirely effective. Here, though, he seems to have got the vocal blend and requisite virtuosity just about right. A stimulating release. Nicholas Anderson