The silver smooth voice of Yoshikazu Mera is one of the wonders of today's
baroque music stars in the firmament. His effortless projection and outstanding
diction make this superbly recorded disc, a dreamworks of palpable emotional
communication. I warmed immediately to his Handel which is both suitably
stentorian and very powerful especially in 'He shall feed his flock',
where the soprano voice is ideally mimicked. In fact, I was wont to think
that a counter tenor is ideally suited to this music, after all most parts
were written for the castrato in mind weren't they?
Mera's collaboration with Gerd Turk is also quite sublime, especially in
the Magnificat a 7 by Ahle, an almost unknown composer who deserves
wider currency on this evidence. Five arias by Buxtehude also warrant serious
investigation, these short pieces find Mera in fabulous voice throughout.
The remainder of the disc is handed over to Johann Sebastian Bach, and here
Yoshikazu Mera shows off his credentials with superb vigour and the utmost
panache. Out of the eight odd items selected from various cantatas, I would
be plumped to choose 'Himmelskonig, sei wilkommen' for sheer panache
and vocal fireworks.
In this eight-minute piece, Mera is quite inspired and handles Bach's extremely
difficult vocal writing with relish, especially in the middle section of
the work. It would be too finicky to list all the collaborators on this CD
but John Elwes and Midori Suzuki must take pride of place for their excellent
contributions. Masaaki Suzuki's Bach Collegium Japan is now rather legendary;
they recently won a 'Soundings' award in Gramophone for their outstanding
St John Passion, so this CD is obviously self-recommending. Watch out for
Yoshikazu Mera, he will definitely be one of the finest counter tenors ever.
Visit the Bach
Collegium Japan webpage for reviews of other releases in this series