COMPOSERS: JS Bach
LABELS: BIS SACD
ALBUM TITLE: JS Bach
WORKS: Cantatas: Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen!, BWV 51; Alles mit Gott und nichts ohn’ ihn, BWV 1127; BWV 210 – ‘Spielet, ihr beseelten Lieder’
PERFORMER: Carolyn Sampson (soprano); Bach Collegium Japan/Masaaki Suzuki
CATALOGUE NO: 1471
Solo soprano and trumpet – protagonists with glittering roles to play, have long made Bach’s cantata ‘Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen’ a favourite with audiences. Recordings abound, of which this new performance with Carolyn Sampson and trumpeter Toshio Shimada is likely to prove appealing. Sampson’s voice has bell-like clarity and an expressive warmth which serves Bach’s writing, sometimes virtuoso, as in the outer movements, sometimes contemplative, as in the accompanied recitative and centrally placed aria, uncommonly well. I prefer Masaaki Suzuki’s tempos in this work to those of John Eliot Gardiner (Philips). In the vocal stakes stronger competition is offered by Maria Stader under Karl Richter (Archiv Produktion), Teresa Stich-Randall (Vanguard), and Arleen Augér (Hänssler) yet, overall this new release makes a stronger appeal than any of them.
By far the greater amount of the programme, though, is taken up with the 12-stanza aria, or ode ‘Alles mit Gott’ which Bach offered in 1713 as a birthday present to his patron Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Saxe-Weimar. It was discovered in the Duchess Anna Amalia Library in Weimar in May 2005 by a young German musicologist, Michael Maul who contributes to the booklet an excellent background and explanatory essay. Proclaimed as the first complete recording I would dare to suggest that as such it is of doubtful merit. The twelve verses yield an acrostic in what would have been regarded, perhaps primarily by the Duke as a visual presentation. It takes Suzuki almost 50 minutes to perform all of them, at least twice the duration of an average Bach cantata. Gardiner, wisely performs only three verses with soprano Elin Manahan Thomas whose fresh complexioned voice and alluring artlessness makes the greater appeal. Nicholas Anderson