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Beloved & Beautiful - Meine Freundin Du Bist Schön / Netherlands Bach Society


Release Date: 12/09/2008 
Label:  Channel Classics   Catalog #: 27308   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian BachGeorg BöhmJohann Christoph BachHeinrich Schütz
Conductor:  Jos van Veldhoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Bach Society Baroque OrchestraNetherlands Bach Society Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

This recording celebrates German Baroque vocal works that (with one notable exception) were inspired by or directly derived from the Biblical texts known today as the "song of songs". While these pieces--three cantatas and a motet--may not be well known, it's certainly not because they are musically deficient or lack lovely melodies and rich harmonic interest. All are the work of first-rate composers who know how to use relatively modest vocal and instrumental resources to create rich colors and lively, affecting realizations of the evocative texts.

Georg Böhm, an older contemporary of J.S. Bach, who may have been
Read more a teacher of the teenage Sebastian in Lüneburg, offers a lovely cantata for four soloists and a four-voiced ripieno ensemble; each of the solo sections begins with the familiar words, "Mein Freund ist mein und ich bin sein" (My beloved is mine and I am his), followed by poetic text from another, anonymous source. Most ambitious by far is the cantata by (Sebastian's great-uncle) Johann Christoph Bach, a substantial 25-minute work whose center is no less than an extended soprano aria set to a ciacona with 66 variations for solo violin. It's a remarkable and very unusual piece that's beautifully performed here by soprano Johannette Zomer and violinist Antoinette Lohmann. In fact, this is one of Zomer's best recordings, her voice gentle and subtle where need be, and richly colored without harshness in more emphatic passages. The other soloists are all fine as well, although Marc Chambers' alto sounds more like an ordinary falsetto than a true, distinctive male alto quality; it's pretty and his aria (in the Böhm cantata) is well sung, but a fuller-bodied alto would have matched better with the rest of the solo singers.

The exception to the Song of Songs theme (the texts come from Psalm 115) is J.S. Bach's cantata, which, if it wasn't actually written for a wedding, is easy to imagine in that context, from the gently dancing opening Sinfonia and joyous chorus ("The Lord is mindful of us and he blesses us...") to the beautiful soprano aria with violin obbligato (that intriguingly offers a tantalizing hint of the similarly conceived but ever more masterfully crafted "Bereite dir..." from the cantata BWV 147). Again, the singing is first-rate, and if anything the instrumental playing--both solo and ensemble--is even more impressive, absolutely superb throughout the entire program. (Matthias Später's sensitive and always tastefully articulated theorbo work deserves special mention.) And as we've come to expect, Channel Classics' sound is demonstration-quality in all formats. Baroque-music fans will find much to enjoy on this well-chosen program of rare and very worthy repertoire--a real treat, especially for the two Bach works!

--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Mein Freund ist mein by Georg Böhm
Conductor:  Jos van Veldhoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Bach Society Baroque Orchestra,  Netherlands Bach Society Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
2.
Meine Freundin, du bist Schön by Johann Christoph Bach
Conductor:  Jos van Veldhoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Bach Society Baroque Orchestra,  Netherlands Bach Society Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1694; Germany 
3.
Stehe auf, meine Freundlin, SWV 499 by Heinrich Schütz
Conductor:  Jos van Veldhoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Bach Society Baroque Orchestra,  Netherlands Bach Society Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
4.
Der Herr denket an uns, BWV 196 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Jos van Veldhoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Bach Society Baroque Orchestra,  Netherlands Bach Society Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: ?1708; Weimar, Germany 

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