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JS Bach: St Matthew Passion – excerpts; Cantatas – arias and sinfonias

Benjamin Appl; Concerto Köln (Sony)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
CD_19075851622_Bach_cmyk

JS Bach
St Matthew Passion – excerpts; Cantatas – arias and sinfonias
Benjamin Appl (baritone); Concerto Köln
Sony 19075851622   67:02 mins

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If anything shines a spotlight on vocal credentials it is the music of Bach: the emotional demands crossed with the need for consistency of tone over an often-broad vocal range makes his music every bit as taxing as the operatic world of his contemporary, Handel, even for an artist as formidably equipped as Benjamin Appl. The present recording is an appealing collection of arias, mostly from cantatas with two from the St Matthew Passion interspersed with four instrumental sinfonias featuring instrumental solos.

Justly celebrated as an oratorio and Lieder singer, Appl combines expressive dexterity with flawless diction. His approach is not conventionally reverential. The Passion meditation ‘Es ist vollbracht’ has an appropriately inward quality, but Judas’s repentence aria from the St Matthew Passion has credible operatic urgency. Appl’s superb breath control brings enormous dividends to the longer, almost instrumental phrases typical of Bach. His upper range is undeniably impressive encompassing both a heroic tenor ring and light, flute-like tones; the lower end is not as resonant, but his performances are always compelling and well-captured in an excellent recording. Concerto Köln accompany stylishly and bring earthy zest to the more robust instrumental movements.

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Jan Smaczny