1. Aria: Widerstehe doch der Sünde (Cantata Widerstehe
doch der Sünde BWV 54) [6:17]
2. Aria: Schläfert allen Sorgenkummer (Cantata Gott
ist unsere Zuversicht BWV 197) [7:54]
3. Aria: (Duetto) Wenn des Kreuzes Bitterkeiten (Cantata
Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan BWV 99) [2:50]
4. Aria: Erbarme dich, mein Gott (St Matthew Passion
BWV 244) [6:17]
5. Aria: Kommt, ihr angefocht’nen Sünden (Cantata Freue
dich, erlöste Schar BWV 30) [4:12]
6. Sinfonia: (Cantata Geist uns Seele wird verwirret
BWV 35) [5:17]
7. Aria: Nichts kann mich erretten (Cantata Wer mich
liebet, der wird mien Wort halten BWV 74) [5:30]
8. Sinfonia: (Cantata Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen BWV
9. Agnus Die (Mass in B minor BWV 232) [5:33]
10. Duetto: Et misericordia (Magnificat BWV 243) [3:28]
11. Duetto: O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort (Cantata O Ewigkeit,
du Donnerwort BWV 60) [4:05]
12. Coro: Sei Lob und Ehr dem höchsten Gut (Cantata Sei
Lob und Ehr dem höchsten Gut BWV 117) [3:20]
Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo); Karin Roman (soprano) (3, 12);
Anders J. Dahlin (tenor) (10, 11); Tomas Medici (tenor) (12);
Jakob Bloch Jespersen (bass-baritone) (12); Concerto Copenhagen/Lars
Ulrik Mortensen (organ)
Before Anne Sofie von Otter embarked upon her
highly successful solo career she was a member of Adolf Fredriks
Bach Choir in Stockholm. She thus learnt Bach’s music from ground
floor, inspired by the leader of the choir, Anders Öhrwall.
Her very first appearance as a soloist was also with Bach: she
sang the alto arias in the St John Passion. For many
years after that Bach was an essential part of her repertoire
but then she concentrated on other fields: opera and Lieder.
In 2007 she felt that she wanted to get back to her roots, listened
through all the Bach cantatas and made a short list of favourite
arias. With Lars Ulrik Mortensen’s Concerto Copenhagen rapidly
developing into one of the front rank period instrument ensembles
the project became a purely Scandinavian affair. For maximum
variety they chose to include a couple of instrumental pieces
as well as some duets and a chorale.
Most of the chosen pieces are rarely heard, the
exceptions being Erbarme dich, mein Gott from St Matthew
Passion and Agnus Dei from Mass in B minor,
arias sung with fine legato and attention to the text. The surprise,
for me at least, was the opening aria, Widerstehe doch der
Sünde, energetic and rhythmic, sounding like Dessau or Eisler
setting something by Brecht. Anne Sofie von Otter’s approach
to the music is also more German cabaret than Bach, deliberately
applying a less artful, theatrical style, making the words tell
more than the pure singing. She also says in the booklet notes
that ‘Bach really does something with the words, and I enjoy
using the text, getting it across.’ In the long Schläfert
allen Sorgenkummer she has an intricate duet with the solo
oboe, for which Bach often wrote grateful parts. The rhythmically
bouncy Wenn des Kreuzes Bitterkeiten has von Otter in
fine harmony with Karin Roman’s soprano.
The Sinfonia from Cantata No. 35 is a vitamin
injection, swift and rocking while the one from Cantata No.
12 is pastoral with a plangent oboe solo. Between these two
orchestral pieces Nichts kann mich erretten from Cantata
No. 74 is a dramatic highlight, vital and thrilling. Christiane
Mariane van Ziegler’s groovy text is really something for the
singer to get her teeth into:
Nothing can save me
from Hell’s chains
than Jesu, thy blood.
Thy sorrow, thy death
make me an inheritor:
I laugh at Satan’s rage.
Of the two duets with the splendid Anders J.
Dahlin the one from Cantata No. 60 O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort
is also music that points forward, more specifically to the
eerie scene with the two armed men in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte.
In the final number Anne Sofie von Otter returns
to where everything started for her, as a member of a choir,
though this time it is the smallest ensemble imaginable, just
The recording is excellent, the playing of the
Concerto Copenhagen ditto and the many admirers of Anne Sofie
von Otter can safely invest in this issue without further ado.