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Bach: Solo Cantatas Bwv 35, 169, 170 / Fink, Mullejans, Freiburg Baroque Orchestra


Release Date: 02/10/2009 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 902016   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Bernarda Fink
Conductor:  Petra Müllejans
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews


Beginning with an ebullient and colorfully scored Sinfonia (giving a prominent role to the organ), Bach's cantata BWV 169 sets the tone for this superb program that highlights three of his finest works in the form for solo voice. It also represents some of mezzo-soprano Bernarda Fink's finest work on disc. Bach seems to have had a particular affinity for instruments inhabiting the alto range and timbre, including oboe d'amore and gamba--and of course for the alto voice, for which he wrote one of his greatest arias, "Erbarme dich", from the St. Matthew Passion (whose character and siciliana style is recalled here in the aria "Stirb in mir" from BWV 169). And Bernarda Fink has the
Read more ideal voice to translate and transmit to our ears the most heartfelt of Bach's settings, her warm, medium-bodied, agile (and sometimes mesmerizing!) mezzo perfectly capturing the temperament and mixed emotions of a weary soul that wells with hope for the true fulfillment and joy of the next, heavenly life. Needless to say this is difficult music to sing, but Fink's solid, confident musicianship and knowing interpretations show why she remains one of today's premiere soloists (not only in Baroque repertoire but also as a lieder singer).

Among the more enduring qualities of these works are the many ways Bach uses music to comment on and illustrate the meaning of the texts (particularly in the last two arias of BWV 170), the unusually independent scoring for organ (how can you not love those recurring swirling figures in BWV 170's final aria!), and the affecting interaction of voice and instruments in the abovementioned aria "Stirb in mir" (Die within me, O world and all your affections). In this cantata Bach skillfully balances the text's overriding theme--a determination to give one's heart entirely to God, to part from the world and its gladly offered blandishments--while, at the work's end remembering that at the same time "we are also commanded to be true to our neighbor". And so, unlike the other two cantatas, this one ends with a lovely chorale (Luther's Nun bitten wir den heiligen Geist) that addresses this point, the chosen verse including the lines "O sweet love, grant us your grace...That we may sincerely love one another and live in peace and unity"--a beautiful sentiment, so simply yet movingly expressed through one of Bach's more engaging harmonizations. The sound, surprisingly not from a church but from a Berlin studio, is absolutely first-rate. Bravo Bernarda!

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

1.
Geist und Seele wird verwirret, BWV 35 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Bernarda Fink (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Petra Müllejans
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1726; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 26 Minutes 22 Secs. 
2.
Gott soll allein mein Herze haben, BWV 169 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Bernarda Fink (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Petra Müllejans
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1726; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 23 Minutes 30 Secs. 
3.
Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust, BWV 170 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Bernarda Fink (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Petra Müllejans
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1726; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 23 Minutes 38 Secs. 

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