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LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Sacred Music
PERFORMER: Carolyn Sampson, Rebecca Outram, Lisa Beckley, Susan Hamilton, Julie Cooper (soprano), James Bowman, Robin Blaze (countertenor), James Gilchrist, Charles Daniels (tenor), Peter Harvey, Michael George, Robert Evans (bass); The King’s Consort/Robert King


This is the second title in Hyperion’s projected survey of Bach’s German contemporaries. The first issue contained music by Bach’s immediate predecessor at Leipzig, Johann Kuhnau. Now comes a selection of sacred vocal pieces by Bach’s predecessor but one, Sebastian Knüpfer. He was Thomaskantor from 1657 until 1676 when he died at the age of 43. Very little of Knüpfer’s music has previously appeared on disc, other than a beautiful Advent piece, Machet die Tore weit, and the sacred concertos Es haben mir die Hoffärtigen, and Ach Herr, strafe mich nicht, which is included in this generous programme of eight works. The music, which is rewardingly varied in its expressive vocabulary, incorporates elements of motet, strophic aria and, of course, chorale. The author of an informative note, Peter Wollny, aptly recalls an observation by Alfred Einstein who long ago described the music as belonging to those apparently fossilised musical monuments that merely require a magician and his magic spell in order to burst back into life. Robert King, his singers and players have wands and spells aplenty and the results are often thrilling to the senses. Knüpfer was abundantly gifted in colouring his chosen texts and there are several delicately etched images which make an immediate and enduring impression. This is an auspicious continuation of a series which deserves to do very well indeed. I look forward to programmes of music by Kindermann, Schelle, Zachow and many others, too.


Nicholas Anderson