COMPOSERS: Fischer,Geist,Hasse,JC & JM Bach,Reincken,Spahn & Bernhard M Hoffmann
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: De Aeternitate
PERFORMER: Carlos Mena (countertenor); Ricercar Consort/Philippe Pierlot
CATALOGUE NO: MIR 9911
Lutheran reforms in Northern Germany favoured the use of the vernacular instead of Latin to make the texts more understandable and enable a deeper involvement of the faithful in church services. This concert of early 18th-century music performed by countertenor Carlos Mena and Philippe Pierlot’s Ricercar Consort comprehensively vindicates Luther’s belief in the expressive potential of the German language.
Bright recordings highlight Mena’s expressive directness in Johann Christoph Bach’s lament ‘Ach dass ich Wassers g’nug hätte’ and bold rendering of the chorale-style vocal line in ‘Ach wie sehnlich’ by Bach’s younger brother Johann Michael. In both pieces aptly impassioned instrumental playing supports the singer’s heartfelt declarations of Christian humility.
Mena’s highly expressive vocal shading – which is always appropriate to the words – is matched sympathetically by the Ricercar Consort’s mellifluous resolutions of the yearning dissonances characteristic of this repertoire. They reach deep into the human soul with a touching contemplation of Christ’s crucifixion in Geist’s ‘O Traurigkeit’ and sorrowful reflection on eternity in Hasse’s ‘Von der Ewigkeit’.
The musicians raise the spirits finally with convincing affirmations of dedication to faith in Fischer’s ‘Klag-Gedicht’, Geist’s ‘Vater unser’ and Spahn’s ‘Letzte Sterbensworte’, before ending with a joyously optimistic account of Melchior Hoffmann’s charming ‘Schlage doch’. Nicholas Rast