Notes and Editorial Reviews
Non sa che sia dolore
Hans-Martin Linde (fl,
cond); Ferdinand Leitner, cond;
Emma Kirkby (sop);
Sophie Boulin (sop);
class="ARIAL12"> Isabelle Poulenard (sop);
Cappella Coloniensis (period instruments)
PHOENIX EDITION 171 (66: 31
Text and Translation)
This is another outstanding entry in Phoenix Edition’s series of 1980s recordings by the Cappella Coloniensis. (See my reviews of Hasse’s
and music by Haydn elsewhere.) Although by this point I’m past complaining about the booklet space devoted to the cover photographer, it is again a shame that no ink is allotted to any of the singers. Of course, Emma Kirkby is world-famous and probably needs no introduction, yet though I am familiar with the excellent Isabelle Poulenard, I doubt that everyone else is, and I was not previously familiar with Sophie Boulin at all.
It’s interesting as well as instructive to have three cantatas by three different contemporaries of the Baroque era on one CD. Despite the similarities between Handel and Hasse, each of them had his own distinctive voice, and if Bach is the most celebrated of the three and Hasse the least well known, it is through no fault (or credit) of the music. In structural terms, Hasse opted for a sung recitative by soprano and harpsichord to precede the cantata proper, almost in the style of an extended dramatic
for opera; Handel employs his usual vacillation between placid and highly dramatic musical elements, the last section of his cantata—the 13-minute aria “Date serta, date flores”—being the most interesting of all as it constantly switches back and forth between lyrical and fiery elements. This grand finale is Kirkby’s finest moment, allowing her more expression and more varied tone color than the calmer first aria, “Dulcis amor, Jesu care.” Hasse’s cantata, as the title indicates, is involved with jealousy and the protagonist’s efforts to overcome it. Boulin has one of those fascinating voices with the characteristic quick vibrato of the French school, some of which is utilized to facilitate her coloratura runs. She is also a very expressive singer, alive to the meaning of the text and its subtleties.
Bach’s secular Cantata No. 209 is not as well known or often recorded as its partners, the “Wedding,” “Hunt,” or “Coffee” cantatas, possibly because its text is more generalized and not specifically centered on a particular theme. The title translates as “He knows not what sorrow is,” and it’s unusual for being set in Italian, not German. Bach obviously had some fun with this piece, tailoring his usual fastidious contrapuntal technique to the Italianate style of recitative and aria, though since the piece is also written for traverse flute, there is a wonderful extended Sinfonia, also in the Italian style, featuring that instrument. Conductor Linde, who started out as a flutist, plays gorgeously here, while the frequently underrated Leitner conducts. What a treat to hear such expressive flute-playing in early music! (Hint to Linde: if you’re still playing the instrument, break it out more often!) Poulenard, also a French chanteuse, has less vibrato than does Boulin, but no less involvement or command of coloration.
This disc has a tepid start but continues to grow in interest and intensity as it progresses. There are nine other recordings of the Bach cantata available, of which Sibylla Rubens with Helmuth Rilling (Hänssler) is my favorite alternative, but these appear to be the only recordings of the Handel and Hasse works. Whether or not you add it to your collection, however, probably depends on your interest in having the Hasse, which is the rarest of the three, and/or your interest in contrasting vocal styles within the same basic musical framework.
FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
Works on This Recording
Silete venti, HWV 242 by George Frideric Handel
Emma Kirkby (Soprano)
Written: circa 1724; London, England
La gelosia by Johann Adolf Hasse
Sophie Boulin (Soprano)
Written: 1769; Vienna, Austria
Non sa che sia dolore, BWV 209 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Hans-Martin Linde (Flute),
Isabelle Poulenard (Soprano)
Written: ?1734; Leipzig, Germany
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