COMPOSERS: JS Bach
WORKS: Cantatas, Vol. 13: BWV 249 (Easter Oratorio) & BWV 6
PERFORMER: Yeree Suh (soprano), Petra Noskaiová (alto), Christoph Genz (tenor), Jan van der Crabben (bass); La Petite Bande/Sigiswald Kuijken
CATALOGUE NO: Accent ACC 25313 (hybrid CD/SACD)
JS Bach’s Easter Oratorio is a so-called ‘parody’, reworked from a secular ‘pastorale’ written for a birthday. The exuberance of the birthday celebration translates effectively into the joy of Easter, while the structure – a magnificent opening Sinfonia, then dialogue between four characters – is unique.
Kuijken generates a strong sense of excitement from the start with a fast tempo and bold, sometimes brash, trumpets above strings and oboes. Recording is close so that, even with the added surround-sound dimension, textures are cluttered, particularly where Kuijken uses coruscating solo voices to serve as the chorus. He argues for only eight-foot bass rather than adding double bass/violone an octave below. This lends attractive lightness to the ensemble, but further narrows the sound spectrum. Relatively long reverberation also masks the clarity of the playing.
‘Seele, deine Spezereien’, the constrained ecstasy of the soprano’s realisation of the resurrection, is beautifully done – unusually slow, flute obbligato exquisitely shaped above Yeree Suh’s guileless sound. Much to enjoy, then, but Philippe Herreweghe’s recording undoubtedly remains the best Easter Oratorio I’ve heard on disc. George Pratt