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Early Music Today (06-08/2015)

Harmonia Mundi

Code-barres / Barcode: 3149020221129 (ID466)

Reviewer: Brian Robins

The funeral obsequies of Bachs Cöthen employer Prince Leopold took place in March 1729. For them Bach apparently provided 'mourning music' for the evening of the corteges arrival and a large‑scale cantata in four parts for the funeral service itself. The music for both is now lost. It has long been conjectured (though not entirely without controversy) thaf the music for the ca ntata was largely drawn from the St Matthew Passion and the Trauer‑Ode, BWV198. That leaves the setting of the 'dictum' (Old Testament text) that frame Part Two, the reconstruction of which here takes a fresh path in employing the music of the opening Kyrie of the B‑minor Mass. Incidentally, Raphaël Pichon's description of the 'dictum' as ‘enigmatic' is curious; it would surely have formed the text of the sermon?


This is not the first reconstruction of the work on CD; Andrew Parrott produced a disc in 2011 that predictably follows his now well established principle of one‑per‑part performance practice. Pichon uses a responsive, youthful‑sounding chorus of 21, which along with some excellent orchestral playing is the best feature of a performance that has its moments - one of the best is alto Damien Guillon's exquisitely lovely 'Erhalte mich' (a parody of 'Erbarme dich') ‑ but overall for me lacks particular distinction or gravitas. I suspect the Parrott (Avie) is the one to go for.


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