JS Bach: Dialogue Cantatas: BWV 49, 57 & 152

COMPOSERS: JS Bach
LABELS: DG
ALBUM TITLE: Dialogue Cantatas
WORKS: Dialogue Cantatas: BWV 49, 57 & 152

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PERFORMER: Dorothea Röschmann (soprano), Thomas Quasthoff (bass-baritone); Members of the RIAS Chamber Choir; Berlin Baroque Soloists/Rainer Kussmaul (violin)

CATALOGUE NO: 477 6591
With its celebration of the Feast of St Stephen (Boxing Day), its bracing and buoyant playing from the Berlin Baroque Soloists, and with the sheer delight of the robust duetting between Thomas Quasthoff and Dorothea Röschmann, this disc is the perfect Christmas gift.

In the wake of his first superb Bach Cantata recording, Quasthoff now turns to the less well-known ‘Dialogue’ Cantatas, in which Bach makes musical capital out of the 17th-century mystical poetic conceit of the wedded bliss of Christ and his bride, the devoted soul. Cantata 57 is the seasonal one, and its sweet-sour chromatic strings recreate the pain and suffering of martyrdom, while the head-voice of Quasthoff levitates over them, transcending pain in heavenly bliss. The dark, mezzo-like core of Röschmann’s soprano brings sombre, dramatic urgency to her recitatives and her near-operatic arias.

Cantata 152 is coloured by the sweet ensemble of recorder, oboe, viola d’amore and viol da gamba. And Raphael Alpermann’s deftly-fingered organ playing twinkles through the steamy marital bliss of Cantata 49, a celebration of the royal marriage between Christ and the Soul, with Röschmann as a ripe and eager Bride for Quasthoff’s Groom.

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Hilary Finch