JS Bach: Cantatas, Vol. 39

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

WORKS: Cantatas, Vol. 39: BWV 28, 68, 85, 175 & 183
PERFORMER: Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Robin Blaze (countertenor), Gerd Türk (tenor), Peter Kooij (bass); Bach Collegium Japan/Masaaki Suzuki


Three of the five 1725 cantatas included in this release have texts by the Leipzig poet, Christiane Mariane von Ziegler. Her free style lays emphasis on individual rather than communal responses to Lutheran worship and seems to have found favour with Bach at this time. The soprano aria from BWV 68, familiarly called ‘My heart ever faithful’, will be known to many readers. Carolyn Sampson sings it with charm and a fresh vocal timbre, accompanied not by a five-stringed violoncello piccolo held between the legs, but by a violoncello da spalla or shoulder cello, also with five strings. It looks mighty cumbersome in the picture reproduced in the booklet, but sounds well in the recording. The bass aria, a parody of Pan’s boastful aria in Bach’s Hunting Cantata, BWV 208, benefits from Peter Kooij’s experienced and mellow declamation. Suzuki sets a brisk pace and the rich-textured accompaniment of two oboes and oboe da caccia is evenly balanced. The flanking choruses of this beautifully proportioned work are sung very well indeed, making this performance a leading contender for the laurels. BWV 85 and 175 are pastorally orientated pieces which develop the image of Christ the good shepherd. In the first aria of BWV 175, ‘Komm, leite mich’, the pastoral character is emphasised by the presence of three treble recorders. Robin Blaze sings this and his aria with violoncello da spalla in BWV 85 with clarity and expressive warmth. But it is Gerd Türk’s lightly articulated delivery in these two cantatas, particularly BWV 175, which steal the show for me, although the pulse of his aria in BWV 85 strikes my sensibilities as hard-driven; it is to Ton Koopman (on Challenge Classics) or Fritz Werner (Warner) that I would turn for a more lyrical account of this. Nicholas Anderson