A voice teacher and early music fan
George Peabody | Planet Earth | 08/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"THE EARLY MUSIC 'A-TEAM'
A MOVING Performance by the Purcell quartet-Emma Kirkby-Michael Chance-Charles Daniels-Peter Harvey. Not to be missed by Bach lovers everywhere; I was so moved by this recording that I wanted to shout with joy(and I did). Read the following review and you will see why.
This set of 4 cantatas was written after Bach had been promoted,in the spring of 1714, from court organist to Knozertmeister, at the ducal court of Weimar. It is designated by Chandos as 'Early Cantatas-Vol.2'; and as such it is a successor to Chandos earlier album 'Early Cantatas-Vol.1'.
Both recordings are performed by the 'A team' of the English Early Music performers: The Purcell Quartet-Emma Kirkby,soprano-Michael Chance,countertenor-Charles Daniels,tenor-Peter Harvey,bass.
BWV 12 (Weinen,Klagen,Sorgen,Zagen) is one of the numerous examples amongst Bach cantatas in which initial suffering is later transformed into joy and a sense of bliss and confidant hope for the future security. Michael Chance's aria 'Kreuz und Kronen sund verbunden' is the high point expression of the hope to come.
BWV18 (Gleichwie der Regen und schnee von Himmel falt) projects the theme of the word of God amongst men and its affect on them.
BWV 61 (Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland) is the first of Bach's cantatas to take Luther's Advent hymn as its starting point. Kirby's radiant performance of the closing Aria: 'Offne dich, mein ganzes Herze' is ravishingly eloquent.
BWV 161 (Komme du Susse Todesstunde) begins with a gorgeously seductive invitation to death. Michael Chance sings this opening aria exceptionally well with a perception of note and word alike.
Uniquely, the Purcell Quartet employs single voices-no choir-which is in keeping with evidence of what Bach himself used. The stance is still controversial, but recreates the works as they would have been performed originally, and therefore stands out from the more conventional approach, the product of subsequent developments of mixed choir singing.
Kirby and Chance are such well-known Bach singers that one imagines one will know what to expect from them every time, but it is part of this whole group's style to make the music sound fresh and new; no one expresses joy better than Kirby, and there are very few if any countertenors who can shape Bach's lines with the kind of intimacy which Chance gives them. Harvey, with his mellow, consoling tone combined with his superb phrasing and flexibility shows outstanding vocal technique through taxing melodic lines. Dramatically Daniels is always excellent.
The Quartet presents a crisp, well synchroized and sharply phrased performance and thus is well matched with solo work of exceptional sensitivity.
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE-2007: "The Purcell Quartet...reflect the meagre forces available to Bach. The four solo singers combine in a one-to-a-part chorus...With no designated 'conductor', this is chamber music, warmed by the acoustic environment of a London church. The resulting clarity is delightful, more subtle than Ricercar Consort (Mirare)."
Overall a highly polished and deeply committed example of music making.(Accompanying booklet includes pertinent information in English, German and French; this includes the text."