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GRAMOPHONE (07/2017)
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Harmonia Mundi 

Code-barres / Barcode : 3149020225226(ID602)


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Reviewer: Jonathan Freeman-Attwood

Surprisingly, this trio of works has not (to my knowledge) been grouped together on record before and yet they complement each other with a remarkable freshness and enterprise that perfectly define Bach’s creative muse in his mid-twenties. The lightness, colour and freewheeling variety of the musical idioms with which Bach experimented are evident in each work, but none more than Weichet nur – a longtime recorded favourite for sopranos from the immediate post-war period. Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut could not represent more of a contrast with its heady rhetoric, strewn with graphic imagery, and Cantata No 152 provides a perfect interlude with its attractive array of soprano and bass arias, closing with perhaps the prototype duet for an emotive dialogue between Jesus and the Soul, which was to become a favourite conceit throughout Bach’s career.

Carolyn Sampson is arguably the most experienced, assured and wide-ranging of current Bach sopranos. With this latest recital she does not disappoint. Sensitivity to the evolving line and projection of text, both of which she manages with warmth and dark-hued reflection, forms a consistent part of her delectable armoury. If the Wedding Cantata is state-of-the-art in its balance and idiomatic ease, the Freiburgers take a rather unremittingly serious view of proceedings: not much wit in the volleys of Cupid’s darts which Bach infuses into the instrumentation; the final Gavotte (‘may your love bring forth blossoms’) is decidedly short on rapture.

Tritt au die Galubensbahn feels far more as if singers and instrumentalists have discovered a collective view. This extends to a sublime account of Mein Herz schwimmt in Blut. Sampson is on form in both, joined in the first by the impressive Andreas Wolf, her rhetorical placement and poise of No 199 right up there with Elly Ameling’s almost peerless reading under Helmut Winscher-mann (Philips – nla). The resonant and authoritative Freiburgers encapsulate the profound remorse of the sinner, Sampson feeding off the assuaging strings in the ‘Tief gebückt’ with captivating supplication. This is really worth waiting for.

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