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Cantata No.198 Lass, Fürstin! Lass noch einen Strahl
Cantata No.199 Mein Herz schwimmt im Blut
Cantata No.200 Bekennen will ich seinen Namen
Arleen Augér (soprano) Gabriele Schreckenbach, Mechtild Georg (altos)
Aldo Baldin (tenor) Philippe Huttenlocher (bass)
Gächinger Kantorei
Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn, Bach-Collegium Stuttgart/Helmuth Rilling
Recorded 1983/76/84 respectively
HÄENSSLER EDITION VOL. 60 CD 92060 [64.30] Edition Bachakademie


The first cantata (though not a church cantata) on this CD is actually a Funeral Ode for Queen Christiane Eberhardine of Saxony performed on 17 October 1727. She was a Protestant in an arranged marriage with the Elector Frederick August, who for purely political purposes had converted to Catholicism back in May 1697 in order to annex the Polish throne. The pious and reclusive Queen Christiane was exceedingly popular with the people of Leipzig, and on her death on 5 September 1727 they decided to hold a memorial service for which Bach was commissioned to write the music. He produced a magnificent cantata in two parts (divided at the occasion by a spoken eulogy), the highlight of which is a miraculous recitative (track 4) to depict tolling funeral bells, followed by a wistful aria for alto accompanied by gambas and lutes commemorating the courage of the late Queen. The work concludes with a charming, dancing choral gigue, the populace celebrating the life of their benefactress. All involved give committed performances, in particular Gabriele Schreckenbach's breath control arouses much admiration in the long-breathed phrases in her aria for alto, in which the great man almost seems to have forgotten the capabilities of the human frame.

The solo cantata BWV 199 was probably written between 1713 and 1714 and is full of distinctly expressive music beautifully sung by the late Arleen Augér from the first recitative which takes its text from the title. The miracle of this cantata lies in its emotional journey beginning in the depths of despair ('My heart is swimming in blood') but concluding joyfully ('How happy is my heart'). Augér's declamatory style of singing recitative is a lesson to all young singers for its power of communication. Despite her excellent clarity of diction one neither needs to know what she is singing about nor understand the German text itself, her voice says it all. Her purity of tone and accuracy of intonation is revelatory, the blend of sound which she achieves in her first aria 'Stumme Seufzer' with oboist Ingo Goritzki and in the chorale 'Ich dein betrubtes Kind' the violist Hans Eurich both masterful. Recorded at the height of her vocal powers ten years before her untimely death in 1993, this is a fitting testament to her extraordinarily lovely Bach singing (it was Mozart's music with which she was particularly associated but the results here are no less beautiful), the astounding moment before the recapitulation of the aria 'Tief gebuckt und voller Reue' (track 14) nothing short of heart-stopping. If you buy this disc for that moment alone you would not have wasted your money.

Only one aria survives as a fragment of Cantata BWV 200; it was only discovered as late as 1924 and published in 1935. Written for two solo violins and alto (not soprano as stated in the booklet's text), Mechthild Georg sounds rather perfunctory and lacklustre after the joys of Augér but chronology defines the placement of this short aria at the end of a highly recommended recording

Christopher Fifield



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