> Christins Schafer Vocal selection [CF]: Classical CD Reviews- Oct 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Christine SCHÄFER (soprano)
Excerpts from works by Bach, Haydn and Mendelssohn
Creation HAYDN
Coffee and Peasant Cantatas BACH
Mass in A BACH
Magnificat BACH
St John Passion BACH
Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart
Bach Collegium Stuttgart
Stuttgart Hymnus Boys’ Choir
Eckhard Weyand (conductor)
Helmuth Rilling (conductor)


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The German soprano Christine Schäfer has been around for about ten years, her teachers having included Auger, Fischer-Dieskau, Jurinac and Reimann. She has sung a wealth of roles at a plethora of opera houses and concert halls throughout the world, and looks to dominate the scene at the highest level for many years to come. The voice is bright and agile, full of character, lively as she greets God’s wonderful work in the first of four extracts from Creation. Excellent diction characterises the brief recitative accompanied by fortepiano. Rilling’s accompaniment to ‘With verdure clad’ is authentically over-phrased perhaps but neatly organised in the process and with some fine wind and horn playing. Schäfer’s breath control and purity of tone impress in this and the following more flamboyant and dramatic aria ‘On mighty pens’, complete with its ornamentation (and fine flute playing).

These extracts from Haydn’s Creation and, to end, ‘Hear ye, Israel’ from Mendelssohn’s Elijah, frame the bulk of the disc, which is music by Bach, starting with music from his two secular cantatas nicknamed ‘Coffee’ and ‘Peasant’. The aria from the former, effectively a trio sonata for voice, flute and continuo, is in praise of coffee and its taste (sweeter than a thousand kisses so evidently before the advent of the instant variety), followed by a couple of cheerful arias from the Peasant Cantata which bring out their merry country-dance tunes as well as featuring another appearance by that overworked flute player, who should have been credited for his finely wrought labours. Schäfer is a fine Bach singer and gives eloquent accounts of the ‘Qui tollis peccata mundi’ from his scarcely performed short Mass in A major (our flute player has summoned reinforcements by now in the shape of a colleague) and the ‘Quia respexit’ from the Magnificat. To conclude there are a couple of extracts from the St John Passion, the arias ‘Ich folge’ (with our fine flautist once again) and ‘Zerfliesse, mein Herze’ (accompanied by an assortment of wind players) before the disc ends with a ravishing performance of ‘Hear ye, Israel’ (in German) if followed by a somewhat perfunctory and even jolly rendition of the chorus ‘Fürchte dich nicht’ (‘Be not afraid’) to end.

Though extracts from works often make unsatisfying listening, this one should make you want to get the complete versions to enjoy Christine Schäfer’s magnificent voice.

Christopher Fifield

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