JS Bach’s two great cantatas for solo bass with Michael Volle

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COMPOSERS: JS Bach
LABELS: Accentus Music
ALBUM TITLE: JS Bach
WORKS: Solo cantatas for bass: Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis (Sinfonia); Ich habe genug; Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats (Sinfonia); Der Friede sei mit dir; Gott soll allein mein Herze haben (Sinfonia); Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen
PERFORMER: Robin Johannsen (soprano), Michael Volle (bass); Members of the RIAS Kammerchor; Academie für Alte Musik Berlin/ Raphael Alpermann (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: ACC 30410

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This disc brings together Bach’s two great cantatas for solo bass together with another in which a soprano occupies a small role and three sinfonias from other cantatas. German baritone Michael Volle has just the kind of voice that serves the best interests of Bach’s music. His declamation is clear and lightly articulated, his vibrato tightly controlled and his intonation impeccable. Ich habe genug contains the well-known aria, ‘Schlummert ein, ihr matten Augen’, which understandably found its way into the 1725 Music Book Bach presented to his wife Anna Magdalena. The composer prepared various versions of the cantata, adding as a masterstroke an oboe da caccia to his last thoughts on ‘Schlummert ein’. This performance though, follows the first version.

Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen is a poignantly expressive piece whose text, with indelible word painting by Bach, incorporates a major theme of Baroque poetry – comparison of man’s journey through life with a sea voyage. The instrumentalists powerfully convey the anguished music of the first aria whose text is rich in metaphor. Volle punctuates the extended vocal phrases with assurance and elegance, vividly evoking Christ’s Passion. The work’s accompagnato recitatives are delivered with sensibility and Xenia Löffler’s eloquently shaped oboe obbligatoin the concluding aria affords uninterrupted pleasure.

Soprano Robin Johannsen provides a sympathetic partnership with Volle in the single aria of the seemingly fragmentary Der Friede sei mit dir. Georg Kallweit’s violin solo provides ethereal adornment to this masterly piece. Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin gives fine accounts of the sinfonias, setting the seal on a fine release. 

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Nicholas Anderson