Reinhard KAISER (1674-1739)
Ich liege und schlafe ganz mit Frieden [21.02]
Wir gingen alle in der Irre [31.37]
Seelige Erlosungs-Gedancken [26.28]
Capella Orlandi Bremen, Thomas Ihlenfeldt (conductor), Eeva Tenkanen (soprano), Doerthe Maria Sandmann (soprano), Olivia Vermeulen (mezzo-soprano), Knut Schoch (tenor), Julian Podger (tenor), Raimonds Spogis (bass), Matthias Jahrmarker (bass)
Recorded St. Johannis, Hamburg-Harvestehude, March 13 2009
CPO 999 821-2 [79.24]

Reinhard Kasier lived during a time of both innovation and conflict in the Hamburg sacred music scene, when disapproval was rife amongst the purists at the development of church music. Due in no small measure to the influence of opera, the passion genre in particular was blossoming from a purely liturgical form, to one more theatrical, and which was embellished with arias, chorales and instrumental movements.

This disc presents some of the few pieces of Kasier’s sacred music still extant. It opens with the motet Ich liege und schlafe ganz mit Frieden, which is dated at around 1700 and in which Kasier – primarily known for his operas, rather than sacred music - sets a psalm text for four voices, five-part strings and basso continuo. It is followed by a fragment of a St Luke Passion, Wir gingen alle in der Irre, most likely by Kasier. An oratorio passion, this combines free aria texts (the authorship of which is unidentified) with sections from Luke Chapter 22. It is an innovative and highly dramatic work, which breaks from tradition in the setting of the texts – the sense of theatricality thus also pointing to Kaiser as its probable composer. The disc concludes with Seelige Erlosungs-Gedancken, a selection of music made in 1715 from an oratorio composed four years previously.

Despite the fact that the solo singers are clearly of a very high standard, the performances as a general rule are disappointingly lack-lustre and very clinical, with little or no concession to the meaning of the texts or the implied emotion that might be conveyed thereby. Although the enunciation of the words is clear, dynamic variation is very limited, and a much greater range of colour and subtlety of shaping are needed. The incisiveness of the instrumental playing from the Capella Orlandi Bremen is also sadly lacking. It is especially disappointing, as the size of the ensemble and the intimacy of the recording would allow such variation to be clearly heard.

These un-dramatic interpretations are particularly unfitting, given the subject of the works, the tensions and sufferings that are portrayed by the narrative, and Kaiser’s own sense of the theatre, and one rather feels that a potentially exciting composer has been let down by the performances. The very poor translations of the too-meagre booklet notes (very little information indeed about the composer) also disappoint.

Em Marshall

These un-dramatic interpretations are particularly unfitting