Beate Kielland is a young Norwegian mezzo-soprano who graduated
from the Norwegian State Academy of Music in Oslo as recently
as in the spring of 2000 and after that she made a career,
not only in Scandinavia but in the rest of Europe as well.
She was a member of the ensemble at the Staatsoper in Hanover
for one season but first and foremost she is a concert singer.
She has already recorded Bach’s Mass in B minor and the St
Matthew Passion which has just been released, These are both
for Naxos with Müller-Brühl at the helm.
first reaction was that this is a fine voice, clean in attack,
rounded and well-equalized. She has a special way of attacking
long notes with an absolutely straight tone – no vibrato
at all and somewhat “hooty” – calling to mind some counter-tenors
of the old school. Then again she lets the tone expand and
gradually adopts a more vibrant quality. I recall Swedish
dramatic soprano Siw Wennberg having a similar attack. It
is something one eventually gets used to but I want to point
out my reaction so that sensitive readers can listen and
judge for themselves before contemplating a purchase. There
is, however, no denying her technique: she manages her runs
well and she has a good trill. It seems that some of the
music on this disc also is a mite low for her: the first
aria of BWV 54 for instance where she has some problems being
heard above the strings. It might be argued that this was
the sound that Bach expected from his boy altos and thus
there should be no complaint at all.
can be expected from the Cologne Chamber Orchestra they offer
stylish playing. They use modern instruments it’s true, but
having been a period instrument ensemble for eleven years
they still play according to historical principles and the
result is actually a successful mix of the two worlds. Middle-of-the-road
always sounds so condescending but in my book it isn’t. I
have collected quite a few of their recordings, both in baroque
and classicist repertoire, and I admire them greatly.
three complete cantatas on this disc are quite different,
not least when it comes to scoring. The first, BWV 170, has
an oboe d’amore and an organ as obbligato instruments, besides
the strings and the continuo. The organ part is quite prominent.
The short BWV 54 has only strings and continuo while the
longest of them, BWV 169, has two oboes, one oboe da caccia,
bassoon and again a concertante organ. This is also the only
piece where the choir appears but only in the concluding,
short chorale. The remaining two items are alto arias from
two other cantatas, thrown in for good measure.
favourite is BWV 169, not least through the colourful scoring.
It has a fine and lively Sinfonia, lasting close to
eight minutes. Moreover the solo part is higher-lying which
means that Ms Kielland sounds more comfortable with a brighter
tone. The choral is well sung by an obviously rather small
aria Bekennen will ich seinen Namen is lively and
refreshing while Schlage doch gewünschte Stunde is
rather solemn, written for a funeral service. Besides the
strings and continuo there are also bells, lending a special
character to the piece.
is a good note by Peter Reichelt in the inlay but the sung
texts and translations, as seems to be the norm nowadays,
have to be downloaded from www.naxos.com.
is more inspiring Bach to be had but generally speaking these
cantatas are in safe hands and the recording leaves little
else to be wished.
see also review by Kevin Sutton