JS Bach: Cantatas BWV 82, 178 & 102

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COMPOSERS: JS Bach
LABELS: Accent
ALBUM TITLE: JS Bach
WORKS: Cantatas BWV 82, 178 & 102
PERFORMER: Elisabeth Hermans (soprano), Petra Noskaiová (mezzo-soprano), Christoph Genz (tenor), Jan Van der Crabben (bariton); Le Petite Bande/Sigiswalk Kuijken
CATALOGUE NO: ACC 25303
Kuijken is uncompromisingly in

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the ‘one-voice-to-a-part’ camp

for Bach cantatas as his expansive

notes, exuberantly full of italics and

bold emphases, make clear. He also

expounds a theory about Bach’s bass

string instrument being at 8’ pitch rather than an octave below; the

resulting textures are refreshingly

light and clean. BWV178 strongly

supports the solo-voice principle

with a movement comprising

chorale phrases interrupted by

three fragments of recitative. First

come two stunning arias for bass,

followed by a glorious trio sonata

– oboes d’amore and bass – wrapped

around the tenor’s chorale phrases.

With excellent recording balance

and SACD sound, this is unbeatable

among its relatively few competitors.

For the uniquely scored BWV82

Kuijken accompanies the solo bass

with pairs of violins above viola and

cello, adding oboe da caccia to the

upper line of the exquisitely peaceful

and reassuring ‘slumber aria’ with

which the aged Simeon greets death.

The resulting top-weighted balance

and density detract from Bach’s

supreme contrapuntal craftsmanship;

nowhere are distinctive instrumental

parts more perfectly interlaced,

as Parrott’s solo Taverner Players

demonstrated all of 21 years ago,

accompanying David Thomas.

The vocal demands of BWV102

could again support the case for

single voices – fast solo fragments

and virtuosic fugal passages – and

Kuijken’s soloists create a light, airy

texture. But Koopman’s 19 singers,

taking it a touch slower, still sustain a

crystal clarity, while his choice of flute

rather than violin for the final aria

reveals a strikingly different character

from Kuijken’s obbligato violin.

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George Pratt