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Rediscovered Cantatas

Bach,W.f. / L Arpa Festante / Otto / Mainz
Release Date: 11/16/2010 
Label:  Accentus   Catalog #: 20103  
Composer:  Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
Performer:  Georg PoplutzGerhild RombergerDorothee MieldsKlaus Mertens
Conductor:  Ralf Otto
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mainz Bach ChoirL'Arpa Festante
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  


Notes and Editorial Reviews

Recorded live at the St. Augustine's Church, Mainz, 1 June 2010
Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: PCM Stereo / Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Booklet notes: English, German, French
Running time: 85 mins
No. of DVDs: 1 (DVD 9)

3441290.az_W_F_BACH_Cantatas.html

W. F. BACH Cantatas: Wohl dem, der den Herren fürchtet, BR-WFB F 19; O Wunder, wer kann dieses fassen, Read more BR-WFB F 2; Ach, dass du den Himmel zerrissest, BR-WFB F 3; Gott fähret auf mit Jauchzen, BR-WFB F 10. Sinfonia in d, BR C 7 Ralf Otto, cond; Dorothee Mields (s); Gerhild Romberger (a); Georg Poplutz (tn); Klaus Mertens (bs); Mainz Bach Ch; L’Arpa Festante O ACCENTUS 20103 (DVD: 85:11 Text and Translation) Live: Mainz 6/1/2010

What an absolutely delightful disc this is, not only in capturing the gorgeous ambience of the St. Augustine Church in Mainz, but in the presentation of the music! Chief among its glories is conductor Ralf Otto, whose aesthetic in early music exactly reflects my own. These are not chopped, clipped, unemotional performances, but beautifully sculpted and polished musical gems revealing the full emotional impact of these pieces. Otto’s musical philosophy insists on “flexibility of timbre, the use of varied tone color, and textural translucency.” For him, the ability to throw light on a work’s compositional textures is an essential precondition for a deeper musical understanding—and it shows. Even in the earliest cantata presented here, Wohl dem, der den Herren fürchtet, which sounds so much like one of his father’s pieces that only an astute student of J. S. Bach would know that it’s not by him, Otto brings out the full richness and power of the music, and in the later cantatas he is positively transcendent.

Aiding him in his musical exercises are L’Arpa Festante, the famed Mainz Bach Choir, and a quartet of soloists who have it all: beautiful tones, musical sensitivity, interpretive rightness, and flawless technique. Following the J. S.-styled opening cantata, Otto plunges into one of W. F. Bach’s darkest and most enigmatic works, the Sinfonia in d, in which even the faster tempo of the concluding fugue allows virtually no light to brighten the mood. This piece is so dark that even the audience in attendance doesn’t know whether to applaud or not at the end. Then we get a succession of more interesting and innovative cantatas. O Wunder, wer kann, with its almost symphonic opening sinfonia, a well-developed duet for soprano and alto, and a bass aria that fairly bursts with peasant energy and bucolic good humor. The orchestral-choral opening of Ach, dass du den Himmel reminds me very much of his brother C. P. E.’s music, full of Sturm und Drang before leading into the choral section. Here again the arias and duets, though extremely well composed, have a forward-looking style, as does Gott fähret auf mit Jauchzen. In this last cantata, Bach wrote a bass aria almost as difficult as Handel’s “Nell’Africana selve,” but far more richly scored and dramatically effective, with contrapuntal trumpets during the interludes. Behind the soprano aria, we get two violins in counterpoint, playing with lute and gamba ground bass. Of the four singers, pride of place goes to bass Klaus Mertens, whose consistently dramatic delivery enlivens every solo and ensemble in which he appears. Dorothee Mields has a very sweet, Emma Kirkby-like timbre, and alto Gerhild Romberger has a wonderful range and richness without resorting to hammering notes on either end of the scale. Georg Poplutz doesn’t have much to sing, but what he does perform also has style blended with a fine energy.

And look, Virginia! There is a Santa Claus … and he brought us texts for all of these pieces without our having to go online and dig them up! This is one of the finest W. F. Bach releases I’ve ever heard, on CD or DVD. If you enjoy this style of late-Baroque music, you owe it to yourself to hear (and see) this magnificent concert. Go for it!

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

1.
Wohl dem, der den Herrn furchtet, F 76 by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
Performer:  Georg Poplutz (Tenor), Gerhild Romberger (Alto), Dorothee Mields (Soprano),
Klaus Mertens (Bass)
Conductor:  Ralf Otto
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mainz Bach Choir,  L'Arpa Festante
2.
Sinfonia in D minor, F 65 by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
Conductor:  Ralf Otto
Orchestra/Ensemble:  L'Arpa Festante
Period: Classical 
Written: 18th Century; Germany 
3.
O Wunder, wer kann dieses fassen, F 92 by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
Performer:  Georg Poplutz (Tenor), Gerhild Romberger (Alto), Dorothee Mields (Soprano),
Klaus Mertens (Bass)
Conductor:  Ralf Otto
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mainz Bach Choir,  L'Arpa Festante
4.
Ach, dass du den Himmel zerrissest, F 93 by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
Performer:  Georg Poplutz (Tenor), Gerhild Romberger (Alto), Dorothee Mields (Soprano),
Klaus Mertens (Bass)
Conductor:  Ralf Otto
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mainz Bach Choir,  L'Arpa Festante
5.
Gott fahret auf mit Jauchzen, F 75 by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
Performer:  Georg Poplutz (Tenor), Gerhild Romberger (Alto), Dorothee Mields (Soprano),
Klaus Mertens (Bass)
Conductor:  Ralf Otto
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mainz Bach Choir,  L'Arpa Festante

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