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Bach: Cantatas for Bass / Goerne


Release Date: 09/22/2017 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 902323  
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Matthias GoerneKatharina Arfken
Conductor:  Gottfried Von der Goltz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

When was the last time you looked for/listened to/purchased a recording of solo-bass cantatas? Whether your answer is “last week” or “never”, when the soloist is Matthias Goerne (here listed, correctly, as baritone) and his accompanist is the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, you can be sure that you won’t be “taking a chance” by giving this a listen. Goerne is one of the world’s finest lieder singers, and he brings the same lovely, lyrical style and warm, expressive tone and emotional involvement to two of Bach’s finest works for solo voice.

Ich habe genug BWV 82 is among Bach’s best-known, best-loved works, thanks to the sheer inspired beauty of its title aria and the even finer one that follows, “Schlummert ein…”. The cantata
Read more exists in several versions, including one for soprano, but this setting best suits voice type and instrumentation. And Goerne proves not only the right voice type, but the right voice, period. He caresses, he shapes, he cares for the phrasing, the beauty and dramatic build of the melody, and makes you believe he loves this music. He’s recorded two of the works on this program before, for Decca about 10 years ago (a disc that also includes Bach’s other, presumed, bass cantata, Der Friede sei mit dir BWV 158). Technically there are some differences: tempos slower here, faster there; pitch–the new recording is a half-step lower, presumably A=415, so-called “baroque” pitch; the younger voice somewhat lighter and brighter, the older one warmer and slightly darker.

Interpretively, the two are very similar in approach–that abovementioned lieder-singer’s sensibility and sensitivity to meaning, mood, and style, not to mention mastery of vocal nuance and color and tone. I’m not a fan of Goerne’s pronounced “ha-ha-ha” articulation in certain melismatic passages in these new performances, which fortunately are few (the final aria of BWV 82, for example, in which he also chooses a more aggressive approach than earlier). For some listeners this won’t be an issue; for others it’s a distracting vocal mannerism that I haven’t noticed from this singer before.

The cantata BWV 56 (Ich will den Kreuzstab) is interesting for its deeply moving subject–and music to match: longing for death–that is, residence in heaven, but its approach placed in the context of life as a sea voyage, complete with musical imagery and plays on words such as “Kreuzstab”, the word for both a navigational instrument and containing the word for “cross”. The lively and literally uplifting fourth-movement aria, “Endlich, endlich…”, proclaims joy of death in Christ: “At last, my yoke will fall from me; there I shall find strength in the Lord; there I shall have the quality of an eagle, thence I shall soar up from this earth…” The following recitative is a sweet and impassioned invocation that Goerne convincingly makes personal and poignant.

The program is filled out with a couple of instrumental pieces, and the oboe d’amore concerto, believed to be the source for Bach’s concerto for harpsichord in A major BWV 1055, is a lovely work with a buoyant opening, a beguiling slow movement and, in the third movement, one of Bach’s catchier Allegros–how could you not love an oboe d’amore concerto? And the instrument’s winsome, plaintive character and warm, reedy tone is a perfect complement to Goerne’s baritone in the cantatas. Yes, there are a few bass cantatas you should look for/listen to. And even if you hear Matthias Goerne sing “Schlummert ein…” only a few times in your life, you’ll be happier for it.

– ClassicsToday (David Vernier) Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis, BWV 21: no 1, Sinfonia in C minor by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Gottfried Von der Goltz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1714; Cöthen, Germany 
2.
Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen, BWV 56 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Matthias Goerne (Baritone)
Conductor:  Gottfried Von der Goltz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1726; Leipzig, Germany 
3.
Concerto for Oboe d'Amore in A major, BWV 1055 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Katharina Arfken (Oboe)
Conductor:  Gottfried Von der Goltz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
4.
Ich habe genug, BWV 82 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Matthias Goerne (Baritone)
Conductor:  Gottfried Von der Goltz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727; Cöthen, Germany 

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