JS Bach: Easter Oratorio, BWV249 (1749 version); Ascension Oratorio, BWV11

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ALBUM TITLE: JS Bach: Oratorios
WORKS: Easter Oratorio, BWV249 (1749 version); Ascension Oratorio, BWV11
PERFORMER: Yukari Nonoshita (soprano), Patrick van Goethem (countertenor), Jan Kobow (tenor), Chiyuki Urano (bass); Bach Collegium Japan/Masaaki Suzuki
Bach composed three oratorios of which that for Christmas is much the longest. In its new release, Bach Collegium Japan performs the other two for Easter and Ascension, performing Bach’s latest version of the Easter Oratorio, which dates from 1749 and which featured a new part written for a third trumpet.


Performances are stylish, graceful and very well sung and played. That is, with the exception of countertenor Patrick van Goethem whose pinched and acid vocal timbre ill blends with that of the remaining soloists. Alas, he is entrusted with the best known and best loved music in the programme, the aria ‘Ach, bleibe doch, mein liebstes Leben’ from the Ascension Oratorio, which Bach later transformed into the Agnus Dei of the B minor Mass. I cannot see the logic of using falsettists alongside female voices, to which Bach would not have had recourse in this context. Andrew Parrott’s decision to use alto Caroline Trevor was a happy one and much to be preferred (Virgin Veritas, coupled with the Easter Oratorio). What a pity for, in most other respects Suzuki’s performances are joyful and vigorous ones with strong contributions from soprano Yukari Nonoshita and tenor Jan Kobow as well as from the choir. Nicholas Anderson