J. S. Bach: Cantatas BWV 12, 8 & 75

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LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Bach Cantatas
WORKS: Cantatas BWV 12, 8 & 75
PERFORMER: Carolyn Sampson, Daniel Taylor, Mark Padmore, Peter Kooij, Collegium Vocale Gent, Philippe Herreweghe
Philippe Herreweghe’s seemingly serendipitous survey of Bach’s cantatas continues with a work from his Weimar period (BWV 12) and two from Leipzig (BWV 38 and 75). The 17-voice choir of Collegium Vocale Gent is fresh-sounding and well rehearsed and the solo vocal group is comparably accomplished. Though BWV 12 was composed at Weimar, Bach revived it in 1724 for his first Easter at Leipzig, and its grief-laden opening chorus became the basis of the Crucifixus of the B minor Mass. Herreweghe here perhaps emphasises elegant phrasing to the detriment of poignant declamation, which is a pity since it waters down the impact that this stylistically rhetorical movement can make. Masaaki Suzuki (BIS), and Konrad Junghänel (Harmonia Mundi) make out stronger cases in this instance. Elsewhere, though, these new performances are rewarding, with fine contributions from oboist Marcel Ponseele as well as Mark Padmore and Carolyn Sampson, both of whom make lyrical, lightly articulated contributions, above all in Bach’s first Leipzig cantata (BWV 75). Daniel Taylor, too, offers a warmly coloured and softly inflected account of his solo music. The bass recitative and arias are in the safe hands of Peter Kooij, whose evenly balanced singing in the terzetto of BWV 38 complements the other voices. Though the declamatory strength of the opening chorus of BWV 75 is understated, Bach’s dance-like treatment of the hymn ‘Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan’ sets the seal on a satisfying issue. Nicholas Anderson