Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Cantata: Ich habe genug, BWV 82 [23:08]
Cantata: Gott soll allein mein Herze haben, BWV 169 [24:38]
Cantata: Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich, BWV 150 – Sinfonia [1:35]
Cantata: Bekennen will ich seinen Namen, BWV 200 - Aria: ‘Bekennen will ich seinen Namen’ [4:29]
Cantata: Komm, du süße Todesstunde, BWV 161 – Recitativo: ‘Der Schluss ist schon Gemacht’ [2:04]
Cantata: Schlage doch, gewünschte Stunde, BWV 53 – Aria: ‘Schlage
doch, gewünschte Stunde’ [7:31]
Andreas Scholl (counter-tenor)
rec. 23-28 January 2011, Les Dominicains de Haute-Alsace, France. DDD
German texts and English and French translations included
DECCA 478 2733 [63:25]
Recently, I reviewed
for MusicWeb International Seen and Heard a concert in Birmingham
at which Andreas Scholl and Kammerorchesterbasel performed the
two cantatas that form the mainstay of this CD programme. I
had reservations about the concert, though a couple of nights
later my colleague Gavin Dixon caught the same programme at
London’s Barbican Hall and it seems from his review
that he was better able to hear the singer and admire his performances.
Within just a few days of that Birmingham concert this CD arrived
With the live concert still fresh in my memory two things are
evident when considering the disc. Firstly, as I expected, there
are no issues relating to balance: Andreas Scholl’s voice come
over clearly, even in the low-lying stretches of ‘Schlummert
ein’ (BWV 82). Secondly, I’d noticed, though I didn’t specifically
comment, that oboist Kerstin Kamp didn’t always sound comfortable
in BWV 82 and this certainly bothered Gavin Dixon a couple of
days later. I presume Miss Kamp plays on this disc – it looks
like her in the session photo – and the oboe part is flawlessly
With Andreas Scholl’s voice perfectly audible throughout one
can appreciate fully his considerable artistry in BWV 82.
His rendition of the ineffably poignant aria ‘Ich habe genug‘
is sophisticated and eloquent. A little later he sings ‘Schlummert
ein’ with disarming simplicity and with a wonderfully pure tone.
In these arias and, arguably, even more so in the recitatives,
he invests the words with meaning yet he never exaggerates for
unwarranted emphasis. There’s a fine feeling of intimacy to
the performance of this cantata, which is just as it should
be. The concluding aria, ‘Ich freue mich auf meinen Tod’ finds
both singer and instrumentalists imparting a becoming lift to
the music and, as before, the low-lying passages present no
problem to Scholl. This is a fine recording of the cantata.
For BWV 169 I presume that Giorgio Paronuzzi is the organist,
as he was in Birmingham. His playing in the sprightly opening
Sinfonia was excellent in the concert and, assuming it’s him
playing on this recording, then his playing delights once again
– and the orchestra is on fine form too. It’s an ebullient movement
and here it launches the cantata in great style. Scholl, rightly,
introduces a more thoughtful mood into the following recitative.
Organ and voice combine to excellent effect in the aria ‘Gott
soll allein mein Herze haben’. Scholl is quite superb here,
his tone pure, his diction crystal clear and he manages to be
completely involved in the communication of the music while
at the same time coming across as fully relaxed and at ease.
The organ is a little more discreet than I remember from the
concert - the more intimate acoustic here is no doubt a factor
– but it’s no less telling and the partnership with Scholl is
most effective. In the wonderful aria, ‘Stirb in mir’, Scholl’s
command of line is complete and, once again, his singing is
The rest of the programme has a slightly ‘bitty’ feel to it.
What a pity Scholl, in this sort of form, didn’t include a complete
performance of Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust,
BWV 170. However, that’s not to say that the pieces he has included
aren’t well worth hearing. The single movement BWV 200
was lost until 1924 and Alfred Dürr thinks it may well be all
that survives of another cantata written, like BWV 82, for the
Feast of Purification. Scholl gives the aria a dedicated performance.
He shows his exemplary feeling for the texts in the recitativo
from BWV 161 though I don’t quite understand why such
a short excerpt from the cantata has been included. Admittedly
it does have a relevance to both BWV 200 and BWV 82 because,
though written for the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity, it was
probably used by Bach at some stage for the Feast of Purification,
according to Alfred Dürr. However, wrenching it out of context
in this way rather reduces it to the status of a‘filler’. If
an excerpt from the cantata was wanted would not the opening
aria of the cantata, ‘Komm, du süße Todesstunde’, which is an
alto aria, have been a more logical choice?
The concluding item, Schlage doch, gewünschte Stunde,
though it carries a BWV number, is spurious - if nothing else,
the inclusion of a pair of tinkling bells in the scoring would
give it away - and most likely written by Georg Melchior Hoffmann
(1679?–1715). Like BWV 200 it consists of a single aria. Scholl
and his colleagues perform it with the same care as if it had
been by Bach himself.
These exemplary performances have been recorded very well indeed.
The sound mixes clarity and intimacy in just the right proportions.
The main focus in the booklet is an interesting essay by Scholl
himself in which he discusses his approach to singing Bach.
It’s very noticeable how much importance he attaches – very
rightly – to the words. That comes across strongly in his performances
on this disc.
The Birmingham concert was something of a disappointment to
me in that I didn’t feel that what I heard was a true reflection
of the artistry of Andreas Scholl in Bach. I don’t believe that
was his fault; it was just that the venue wasn’t completely
suitable on that occasion. We know that commercial recordings
are a different matter. There the artists are seeking to create
a document so the engineers quite legitimately help them to
create a balance that will best help the listener to enjoy the
music to the full. I’m glad to have heard this CD because it
“puts the record straight”. Anyone hearing it should be left
in no doubt that Andreas Scholl is a superb and very thoughtful
exponent of the music of Bach.