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JS Bach • Handel (Sabine Devieilhe)

Sabine Devieilhe (soprano); Pygmalion/Raphaël Pichon (Erato)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

JS Bach • Handel
JS Bach: Cantata ‘Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut’, BWV 199; Cantata ‘Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen’, BWV 51 etc.; Handel: Brockes Passion, HWV 48 etc
Sabine Devieilhe (soprano); Pygmalion/Raphaël Pichon
Erato 9029667786   83:37 mins

An initial glance sometimes tells us that this is the kind of programme which falters at the first hurdle. A potpourri of secular and sacred music with little in the way of an over-all concept. Here, though, is a thoughtful assembly of music depicting affliction and repentance on the one hand and joy and desire on the other.

The recording finds Sabine Devieilhe on sparkling form. Bach and Handel do not always sit comfortably together, so it is all the more rewarding when they do. The focal points are two of Bach’s cantatas, providing the declared intention of contrasting affliction with joy. Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut is an early work whose second aria, with its broad sweeping gestures, brings Handel to mind. Indeed, the chosen aria from Handel’s Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (track 17) provides confirmation of this. For the centrally placed chorale, of consummate beauty, Raphaël Pichon has opted for a viola da gamba accompaniment, which Bach used at Cöthen, rather than the viola of the earlier Weimar performance.

The joyful Jauchzet Gott illustrates the other side of the coin, and Devieilhe brings warmth, radiance and a relaxed athleticism to this musical tour de force. Hannes Rux’s trumpet playing is scintillating, and the violin partnership of Sophie Gent and Louis Créac’h in the concluding aria-chorale set the seal upon an exhilarating performance in which two arias from Handel’s opera, Giulio Cesare, and short extracts from his Brockes Passion complete a thoughtful and beguiling tableau.

Nicholas Anderson