Redemption – Cantata Arias
Anna Prohaska (soprano); Lautten Compagney/Wolfgang Katschner
Alpha Classics ALPHA 658 77:47 mins
The note which accompanies this disc links its production to the COVID-19 pandemic. Inasmuch as the arias and chorales of Bach’s cantatas need not involve large vocal and instrumental ensembles, the recording is of practical use in these straitened times. Yet it seems that Anna Prohaska’s idea for the programme was entertained prior to the pandemic, so it is a happy conjunction of artistic concept with challenging circumstances.
The component parts of Prohaska’s recital are varied, consisting of solo arias, choruses, instrumentally treated chorales and, in a rather puzzling single instance, the celebrated ‘Sheep may safely graze’ aria in which a solo violin usurps the sublime vocal line. That being said, Birgit Schnurpfeil’s playing is alluring. Most of the items are free-standing but occasionally two pieces, drawn from different cantatas, though affectively complementary are segued.
Prohaska’s communicative voice is, by-and-large, pleasing, even though my sensibilities were sometimes disturbed by her inclination towards over-emphasis and a suggestion of messa di voce declamation. Arias with oboe obbligato from cantatas, BWV 31, BWV 105 and from the vernal Wedding Cantata, BWV 202 are perhaps especially successful. The instrumentalists of Lautten Compagney under Wolfgang Katschner’s experienced direction provide sympathetic support and, when required, the single alto, tenor and bass voices blend well with that of Prohaska.
A confusing error in the tracklisting (track 17) needs clarification: one chorale, from BWV 105 is listed, but bears the title of another cantata, BWV 78. Contrary to documentation, the track contains the concluding chorale from each work.
Find out more about JS Bach and his works here