CPE Bach: Sacred Songs after CC Sturm

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WORKS: Sacred Songs after CC Sturm
PERFORMER: Klaus Mertens (baritone); Ludger Rémy (fortepiano)
CATALOGUE NO: 999 708-2
When Telemann set to music verses from Klopstock’s epic poem Messias in 1759, he was one of the first composers to recognise the cultivation of feeling as a value in its own right. Almost at the same time, Telemann’s godson, CPE Bach, achieved wide recognition for his earliest settings of poems by Christian Gellert, as well as others by Klopstock whose ‘Lyda’ – one of Bach’s loveliest songs – is included in a companion recital by Klaus Mertens and Ludger Rémy of Odes and Lieder (CPO). This new release contains a selection of Sacred Songs drawn from two collections by the Hamburg pastor Christoph Christian Sturm which Bach set in 1780 and 1781. In these, as in the earlier odes, Lieder and psalms, Bach embraces the north German aesthetic of the ‘Empfindsamer Stil’ (sensitive style) of which he was a leading exponent and of which Telemann was a torch-bearer. The texts mostly have a strong Pietist bias to which Bach responds with music of impassioned intensity and of emotional breadth. Particular textual colouring is achieved by bold intervals, sometimes, as in ‘Jesus in Gethsemane’, foreshadowing Schubert, yet at other times recalling his father’s Passion music. All the songs are accompanied by a fortepiano, one of two instruments which Bach himself commended for this repertoire. A fine recital. Nicholas Anderson