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3.0 out of 5 stars
A mixed bag, 15 Nov 2007
This cd has a lot to recommend it, mainly the passionate African singing. Some of the fusions with Bach's musical idioms work well, especially his faster and more surging music. Bach's more contemplative is less well served.
This dichotomy is clearly demonstrated by the opening chorus from the St John Passion which, backed with powerful "tribal" drumming, is highly effective with the drums adding a primordial menace to this angst-ridden composition. Its final chorus Ruhl Wohl, by contrast, is utterly dismal, the reflective nature of the music totally marred by metronomic drums.
Somewhere in between is the juxtaposition of a choral interlude from the same work and the Sakanda, energetically performed but not really revelatory.
The "africanised" version of a Bach gigue is dynamic too but the attempted cultural fusion between one of Bach's most beautiful slow preludes and traditional dance music is another complete failure, the chorus merely being faded down while the piano plays then the piano faded for the return of the chorus. No particular insight into either music results.
The Agnus dei is performed completely straight followed by an equally authentic African chant. Both are well enough done without being overly memorable.
These are followed by another African number with a JSB invention tacked on at the end, another piece of Aricana then a complete Bach chorus from the hunt cantata, again with drumming concluded by the famous Jesus Joy tune played instrumentally, with African singing topping and tailing it. Neither are particularly noteworthy.