Bach (attrib.)

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COMPOSERS: Bach (attrib.)
WORKS: Cantatas BWV 15, 141, 142 & 160
PERFORMER: Dorothee Mields (soprano), Henning Voss (countertenor), Henning Kaiser (tenor), Ralf Grobe (bass); Alsfeld Vocal Ensemble, I Febiarmonici/ Wolfgang Helbich
CATALOGUE NO: 999 985-2
It’s courageous to present four ‘Bach’ cantatas which have been judged spurious or doubtful for at least half a century. Some evidence is irrefutable – BWV 15 is copied from Bach’s cousin Johann Ludwig. Elsewhere, musical style gives the game away. In 1959 W Gillies Whittaker sought practical excuses for weaknesses in BWV 160 – perhaps Bach’s bassoonists ‘were woefully inadequate’ – but he finally accepted that the music was probably by Telemann, a fact now proven. So it’s not Bach – but it isn’t half bad. BWV 142 opens with an utterly charming concerto, flutes, oboes and strings in colourful dialogue. Telemann’s opening to BWV 141 has been criticised for its static vocal line, but as pure sound and with such well-sprung rhythms, it’s quite breathtaking. BWV 15, musically rather a curate’s egg, is cast in antiquated fragments rather than full-blown choruses and arias, but dramatically it’s highly charged: opening quiet chords beguile the ear before an outburst of three trumpets and drums. All four soloists are impressive, particularly in gaunt, testing lines which sometimes wander off in acute-angled harmonic directions. Wolfgang Helbich has both the sizeable choir (34-strong), and I Febiarmonici (ten violins, others to match), dancing lightly off strong beats with wonderful transparency, very well captured in the recording. Not to be missed. George Pratt