ALBUM TITLE: Betrachte, Meine Seel
WORKS: Sacred Arias by Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mendelssohn
PERFORMER: Thomas Quasthoff (bass-baritone); Staatsopernchor & Staatskapelle Dresden/Sebastian Weigle
CATALOGUE NO: 477 6230
For those with ears to hear, Thomas Quasthoff’s BBC Music Magazine Award-winning disc of Bach arias gave several clues as to his spiritual standpoint as an artist. And that has a lot to do with both a sense of exultant humanism, and a tough, earthy and unsparing approach to challenge. So the bass-baritone’s choice of extracts for this new disc of ‘sacred’ music will come as little surprise.
This is very much a compilation disc, in that occasionally the performances of both Quasthoff and the Staatskapelle Dresden under Sebastian Weigle can lack a deeper sense of engagement and real momentum – inevitable in such clipped extracts. But there’s much to enjoy in Quasthoff’s jaunty ploughman’s song from Haydn’s The Seasons, his majestic invocation to ‘Herr Gott Abrahams’ from Mendelssohn’s Elijah – and in a shamelessly sentimentalised ‘Swing low, sweet chariot’ as bonus track. Hilary Finch