COMPOSERS: JS Bach
LABELS: Soli Deo Gloria
WORKS: Cantatas, Vol. 11: BWV 38, 49, 98, 109, 162, 180, 188
PERFORMER: Bach Cantatas Volume 11
CATALOGUE NO: SDG 168
Three of the cantatas in this latest clutch from the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists are seldom heard. BWV 98, 162 and 188, like the remaining pieces on this album, were sung at Leipzig on the 20th and 21st Sundays after Trinity.
BWV 162, though, goes back to Bach’s Weimar years and survives only in two modestly incomplete sets of parts. Peter Harvey offers an evenly sustained and crisply articulated account of the opening aria while Sara Mingardo and Christopher Genz are pleasingly matched in their beautiful C major duet.
Distinctive features of BWV 49 and 188 are their extended Sinfonias with organ obbligato. Bach arranged them from lost works which he later revised as the finale of the E major Harpsichord Concerto (BWV 1053) and the opening movement of that in D minor (BWV 1052), respectively. BWV 49 is a dialogue between Jesus and the Soul.
Peter Harvey and Magdalena Kožená are the protagonists who join in a radiant A major love duet which precedes the Soul’s beguiling aria in the same key with violoncello piccolo and oboe d’amore. Her clear line and expressive style serves the music well both here and in the concluding chorale-anchored duet in which she sings the hymn melody.
Kožená also effectively captures the contrasting spirit of her two solos in BWV 180. This work is rooted in the dance and Gardiner conveys the intimate character of the opening chorus with unhurried grace – a far cry from Masaaki Suzuki’s improperly fast tempo.
The second disc is patchier than the first. Voices and instruments do not always blend as they should and the opening chorus of BWV 109 feels laboured; but the concerted concluding chorale, a wonderfully crafted piece, comes off splendidly.
While much of BWV 188 comes over persuasively, its captivating tenor aria, so affectingly sung by Paul Agnew, is marred by passages of wayward oboe playing. Nicholas Anderson