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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685 – 1750)
Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo); Karin Roman (soprano); Anders J. Dahlin (tenor); Tomas Medici (tenor) ; Jakob Bloch Jespersen (bass-baritone) ; Concerto Copenhagen/Lars Ulrik Mortensen (organ)
rec. Garnisonskirken, Copenhagen, June 2008
German and Latin texts with English and French translations enclosed.
ARCHIV PRODUKTION 477 7467 [57:04]

Experience Classicsonline

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 12) [2:19]
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 four voices.

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.

Göran Forsling



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