first encountered the artistry of David Daniels though his
exceptional 1998 Virgin Veritas CD of Handel operatic arias
(5453262). Since then I’ve come to regard him as
one of the finest counter-tenors of his generation, the possessor
of a beautiful voice and a superb technique. This new Bach
recital confirms that view. Incidentally, these same performers
included several of these pieces in a recent London concert
that was favourably reviewed
my colleague Robert Costin.
arias have been well chosen to include the plums from Bach’s
major choral works and some cantata excerpts. ‘Qui sedes’,
with which proceedings open, flows beautifully, which is
a tribute to Harry Bicket as well as to Daniels. The other
excerpt from the B Minor Mass
, ‘Agnus Dei’, is deeply
felt and Daniels’ superb breath control enables him to spin
long, eloquent lines.
as deeply felt is ‘Es ist vollbracht’. From Bach’s other
surviving Passion setting comes the wonderful ‘Erbarme dich’.
Here, as elsewhere, Daniels sings with a gloriously full
tone and his singing of this poignant aria is expressive
two arias from Cantata 82 are included and since these account
for the bulk of the cantata part of me wishes that the whole
work had been given, not least because the couple of recitatives
from the St. Matthew Passion
that are included show
that Daniels is excellent in recitative. Daniels sings the
fine aria from which the cantata takes its name very well,
though in this work my personal preference is to hear either
a female alto or a bass – the same applies to ‘Schlummert
ein, ihr matten Augen’.
the whole recital I have but one interpretative niggle and
that concerns the heavenly aria ‘Vergnügte Ruh, beliebete
Seelenlust’. The first line, as translated in the booklet,
speaks of “Contented rest, beloved inner joy.” For me, the
pace of this performance is just a bit too fleet. I know
that so much of Bach’s music is founded on dance and the
last thing one wants is for this aria to drag but here there’s
a little too much haste so that the aria is indeed joyful
but I miss a sense of repose. Having said that, the singing
is poised and lovely.
artistry of David Daniels gives great pleasure throughout
this disc. Equally pleasing are the accompaniments provided
by Bicket and the OAE. The instrumental obbligati are all
of a very high standard and though it’s slightly invidious
to single out individuals I’d commend especially oboist Katharina
Sprekelsen in ‘Qui sedes’, ‘Ich habe genug’ and ‘Vergnügte
Ruh, beliebete Seelenlust’. Also demanding a mention are
Jonathan Manson, who plays the gamba part in ‘Es ist vollbracht’,
and Nadja Zweiner, the violinist in ‘Erbarme dich’.
recorded sound is excellent as are the notes by Simon Heighes.
is a fine disc. Admirers of David Daniels will need no prompting
from me to invest but anyone who has not yet encountered
this young American singer and acquires this recital will
soon understand why his stock is so high.