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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685–1739)
Der Zufiedengestellte Aeolus, BWV 205 (1723) [35.30]
Unser Mund sei voll Lachens, BWV 110 (1725) [21.40]
Nancy Argenta (soprano) (Pallas)
Charles Daniels (tenor) (Zephyrus)
Klaus Mertens (bass) (Aeolus)
Claudia Iten (mezzo) (Pomona)
Roberta Invernizzi (soprano)
Rosa Dominguez (mezzo)
Coro dell Radio Svizzera
I Barochisti/Diego Fasolis
rec. Auditorium RSI, Lugano, Switzerland, November 2003, May 2004
ARTS 47717-8 [57.10]

Bach’s cantata Der Zufiedengestellte Aeolus (Aeolus Pacified) was commissioned by students from the University of Leipzig for performance on the name day of Dr. August Friedrich Müller. The work was probably first performed in an open air performance outside Müller’s home in Leipzig. The text for the cantata was written by Picander who would later on provide Bach with texts for such works as the St. Matthew Passion.
The cantata is laid out like a short stage-scene in which Pallas, Pomona and Zephyrus try persuade Aeolus (the senior Wind god) to hold back the North Winds of Winter. Finally Aeolus agrees when he discovers that Pallas made the request because of Dr. Müller’s birthday celebrations. The piece is delightful and light-hearted and well on a par with Bach’s other celebratory cantatas.
The work opens with a chorus whose orchestral prelude is rather reminiscent of Bach’s Magnificat. Whilst the chorus sing with great élan, I felt that the fast speed made the piece sound a trifle scrambled, though technically both singers and instrumentalists cope very will with Fasolis’s tempos.
As Aeolus, Klaus Mertens is a trifle over-emphatic and perhaps his runs are not ideal. But he has a very strong presence and his arias include some magnificent trumpet playing. Zephyrus, the mild, westerly summer wind, is played beautifully by Charles Daniels. His aria includes a lovely violin obbligato.
Claudia Iten’s Pomona makes her entrance with a lovely oboe obbligato. Iten has an attractive, soprano-like voice and blends well with Nancy Argenta’s Pallas. Pallas’s first aria also comes with a lovely violin solo.
Once all the characters have been introduced we get a sequence of ariosos, recitatives and a duet which develop the operatic nature of the work. The soloists could make much more of the quasi-operatic nature of the piece and unfortunately Argenta and Iten are a little uneven in their final duet.
This is a charming work, with some very attractive orchestrations brilliantly played by I Barochisti. My main complaint is that the recitatives are taken at a steady pace. This would be perfectly suitable for one of Bach’s sacred cantatas but seems too stolid for this lively, light-hearted piece.
The performers couple the cantata with one of Bach’s sacred cantatas, Under Mund sei voll Lachens, BWV 110. This was written for the first day of Christmas 1725. The orchestra opening parodies the Ouverture in D Major, BWV 1069, which means that it is a particularly grand way of opening a cantata. The lovely, bouncy chorus is followed by arias for tenor, alto and bass and a duet for soprano and tenor. Again there is much instrumental interest, from the bubbling woodwind in the tenor aria, “Ihr Gedankern und ihr Sinnen” to the brilliant trumpet in the bass arias “Wacht auf, ihr Adern und ihr Glieder”. The alto is accompanied by a beautifully expressive oboe solo.
This is a highly recommendable disc, despite my small reservations over the soloists. There is much choral and instrumental interest, beautifully taken by the Swiss forces, over and above the solo numbers. Bach’s name-day cantata for Dr. Müller displays the master in delightfully unbuttoned mood.
Robert Hugill


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