> Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750): From the Mass in A Major [KM]: Classical CD Reviews- Sept 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
From the Mass in A Major
From the Magnificat
From the Mass in G Minor
From Cantata BWV 212
From Cantata BWV 211
From St. Matthew Passion
Georg Friedrich HANDEL (1685-1759)
From The Messiah
  Thomas Quasthoff, Bass
Gachinger Kantorei Stuttgart;
Bach Collegium Stuttgart;
Stuttgarter Kammerorchester;
Oregon Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra; Helmuth Rilling, Conductor
Rec: Various dates (not specified).
  HÄNSSLER CD 98.413 [71.04]


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The German bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff has shown his skills and the fine quality of his voice in a wide range of music, from Handel and Bach (which are included on this compilation), to Schubert, singing Winterreise, to Berlioz, Brahms, Beethoven and Britten, to name just a few. As one of the finest up and coming singers in his range, Quasthoff demonstrates a noble voice, a total mastery of tone and moving timbre.

Quasthoff is here shown in 18th century repertoire, with a series of extracts from various works by Handel and Bach. All are recorded with Helmuth Rilling, and various orchestras. This music covers a variety of tones. At times, Quasthoff recalls Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, such as when he sings the joyous aria from Bach’s Peasant Cantata, Dein Wachstum sei feste und lache vor Lust. His skills at singing recitatives are heard in sections from the St. Matthew Passion, as well as in other sections from the Bach cantatas.

Quasthoff is perhaps a bit less convincing in the Handel, because his English sounds very forced and artificial. Yet his tone fits the arias included here very well, and he is regal in The Trumpet shall Sound.

This is an attractive recording, but is lacking in overall cohesion. As a compilation, it gives a good idea of Quasthoff’s voice; musically, the disc sounds too much like a compilation. It’s a shame, because Quasthoff deserves better. But if you are familiar with his fine voice, you will know that this is an enjoyable recording by one of the voices that will probably be heard for many years to come.

Kirk McElhearn

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