J S Bach: Cantatas, Vol. 16: BWV 28, 122, 152 & 190; Singet dem Herrn, BWV 225

LABELS: Soli Deo Gloria
WORKS: Cantatas, Vol. 16: BWV 28, 122, 152 & 190; Singet dem Herrn, BWV 225
PERFORMER: Gillian Keith, Katharine Fugue, Joanne Lunn (soprano), Daniel Taylor (countertenor), James Gilchrist (tenor), Peter Harvey (bass); Monteverdi Choir; English Baroque Soloists/John Eliot Gardiner
CATALOGUE NO: Soli Deo Gloria SDG 137
The programme on this CD concluded John Eliot Gardiner’s Bach Cantata Pilgrimage. Recorded in St Bartholomew’s church, New York on 31 December 2000, it consists of three cantatas for the Sunday after Christmas, another for New Year’s Day and the eight?voice motet Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied. The earliest piece isTritt auf die Glaubens-bahn, BWV 152, which Bach wrote in 1714. Gardiner captures its intimacy and tenderness, and is outstandingly well served by Gillian Keith in her aria with recorder, viola d’amore and continuo. This is pure magic to my ears and eclipses any rival version that I can think of. Das neugeborne Kinelein, BWV 122, is a strongly devotional piece. The chromaticism and stern declamatory contours of its bass aria seem to foreshadow Herr Schlendrian’s second aria in the Coffee Cantata. This is a cantata which does not wear its heart on its sleeve yet Gardiner somehow manages to probe its subtleties even more affectingly than does Philippe Herreweghe. The centrepiece of Gottlob! nun geht as Jahr zu Ende, BWV 28 is the chorale motet that forms its second movement. The translucent textures of the Monteverdi Choir, which also enhance the motet (BWV 225), enliven it with well punctuated phrasing underpinned by a lightly articulated continuo.Bach surely was intent on making his mark with Singet dem Herren ein neues Lied, BWV 190. Strings, three trumpets, drums, three oboes, oboe d’amore and basso continuo play their part, though Bach’s autograph score has not survived complete. The problems are far from insurmountable, though – witness these convincing reconstructions. The rest of Gardiner’s Pilgrimage is yet to come out on CD; in the meantime it’s splendid to have here its robust and colourful final performance.