COMPOSERS: JS Bach
ALBUM TITLE: JS Bach
WORKS: Cantatas: BWV 82a (Ich habe genug), 146 (Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal) & 199 (Mein Herze Schwimmt in Blut); Orchestral Suite No. 2
PERFORMER: Johannette Zomer (soprano); Florilegium/Ashley Solomon (flute)
CATALOGUE NO: CCS SA 23807
Johann Sebastian Bach first wrote Cantata 82, Ich habe genug, in 1727 for bass with obbligato oboe. Its second version is strikingly different – with soprano, and transposed up to accommodate a solo flute. Florilegium play it with touching gentleness, a filigree of one-to-a-part strings, Ashley Solomon’s soft-toned baroque flute, and Johannette Zomer subtly matching vocal tone and vibrato to every nuance of the text. The return of the opening ritornello is magically quiet and suitably contemplative. Solomon matches Zomer’s remarkable breath-control in the following cradle song, soothing the long sleep of death – as revealing a performance as you’ll find on disc.
On this rendition, BWV199 comes with various options too, including viola obbligato winding round the plain hymn-tune phrases in the chorale movement. Though, for me, Gardiner just has the edge in his live 2000 recording, which features Magdalena Kožená’s anguished remorse and Marcel Ponseele’s exquisite oboe, and is delivered at a slightly faster tempo.
The Overture for flute and strings, too, benefits from a light touch. The fugal second section, for all its busy counterpoint, remains appealingly transparent. Again Solomon’s breath control creates a sense of deceptive ease and (with, thankfully, both repeats) of hypnotic impulsion,
while the dances, which include
the famous ‘Badinerie’, are refreshingly light-footed.
For the opening Sinfonia from Cantata 146, an organ concerto in all but name, and better known in its manifestation as the D minor harpsichord concerto, Florilegium expands to include three oboes. They’re prominently balanced at
the expense of some organ detail,
but uncover some inner details of Bach’s contrapuntal craftsmanship which had hitherto escaped me.