A wonderful disc
of Bach cantatas with a star cast from Eloquence.
Baker has a gorgeously
rich, full and mature voice – powerful without being too heavy.
She is an excellent choice of soloist for BWV 170 and BWV
159, with a good range from beautifully calm and tender to
impassioned and dramatic. BWV 170 is full of sensitivity,
and Baker captures the plangency in the aria “Wie jammern
mich doch vie verkehrten Herzen” particularly well.
top option for BWV 170, however, and the one I would probably
go for purely on account of my predilection for counter-tenor
voices - for their purer, clearer, thinner and more piercing
sound - is Herreweghe’s Harmonia Mundi disc with Andreas Scholl.
Scholl creates an even more beautiful tone and a greater sense
of spirituality than Baker. He is slightly more dramatic in
the recitative Die Welt, das Sundenhaus and is lighter,
livelier, faster and bouncier in the aria Mir ekelt mehr
is the bass soloist for Ich Habe Genug. He produces
a lovely sound, with a gorgeously dark and rich tone, but
somehow lacks a little in expression – not enough pathos comes
across. I would like more sweetness and tenderness in the
Ich Habe Genug recitative and the ensuing aria Schlummert
ein, ihn matten Augen. This is otherwise a very decent
performance of the work with beautifully sinuous oboe solos
from Rachel Lord. Another recording of this cantata that I
particularly recommend, however, has Matthias Goerne on Decca.
Goerne is slightly
lighter, more tender and dramatic in Ich Habe Genug
and his voice is a bit sweeter, yet with a fantastically gruff
and dark lower register. The only problem with the Goerne
recording is his rather frequent and very audible inhalations.
Norrington conducts the Camerata Academica Salzburg on the
Goerne recording, and the piece as a whole flows much better
than Marriner’s partly because it is slightly faster. It is
more lyrical and fluent, with an astoundingly beautiful orchestral
Baker and Shirley-Quirk
are joined by Robert Tear for the cantata Sehet, wir gehn
hinauf gen Jerusalem. Baker is delightfully sensitive
and tender in the eponymous arioso and recitative, Shirley-Quirk
well controlled and full of spirituality, and Tear wonderfully
On the whole,
this is a good disc, with excellent performances. All the
works are very well paced, and the Academy responds well under
Marriner’s expert baton. The soloists sing beautifully – as
is expected from such top names. The sound is good for recordings
made during 1964-66.
Although I would
recommend the other recordings mentioned for BWV 170 and BWV
82, I would not by any means consider the purchase of this
particular recording money wasted.