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Andreas Scholl - Bach Cantatas

Andreas Scholl - Bach Cantatas

1 Jan 2011
4.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 1 Jan. 2011
  • Release Date: 9 Jan. 2012
  • Label: Decca Music Group Ltd.
  • Copyright: (C) 2011 Decca Music Group Limited
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 1:03:23
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B005MYQPDU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 45,153 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By schumann_bg TOP 50 REVIEWER on 22 Dec. 2012
Format: Audio CD
Andreas Scholl is a remarkable singer, not just for his beauty of tone but for the seriousness he brings to the repertoire - the two combined make him an exemplary figure. In the interview printed here he speaks of how he thought about this music and the question of Bach interpretation; bringing his universal spirit to a modern audience where devoutness is no longer a general trait, and is unlikely to be as strong in the interpreter as the composer. What we need is someone who can let Bach's radiance shine through unimpeded, and this is what Scholl gives us. His reading of Ich habe genug is quite gentle in comparison with other versions, particularly in the last number, Ich freue mich auf meinen Tod, which comes across as relatively muted. It always strikes me as quite an extraordinary aria, and very balanced from the Christian point of view, taking consolation a stage further, yet somehow remaining grounded in its unshakeable faith, without any shrillness. It is certainly refreshing in comparison with the morbidity or blanking out we expect around the subject as filtered through the media - or the emotionalism. Coming after the gentleness of Schlummert ein, ihr matten Augen, which lasts a glorious ten minutes, the cantata achieves a moving and life-enhancing transformation of resignation. This leads into the Cantata BWV 169 which starts with a most buoyant Sinfonia, more or less like an organ concerto movement, and the third aria features an obbligato in which the organ dovetails most exquisitely with Scholl, using shorter, more birdlike note-values. A further high point of the disc, one of so many, is no. 5, a most plangent, startling aria with a chordal progression of the utmost pathos.Read more ›
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This is the first time I've ever felt compelled to write a comment on a disc but, as it is a long time since I've heard a recording so incredible, I just had to. I've been a fan of Scholl for years but he seems to just get better and better. He stands head and shoulders even above the wonderful number of excellent countertenors around today. The sheer artistry he displays in these Cantatas is quite breathtaking. I'm not easily reduced to tears but his performance of "Schlummert ein" from Cantata 82 (Track 3) did just that - and how! The recording quality is superb and the Kammerorchester Basel are slick, stylish and provide sensitive accompaniment to Scholl's artistry. I really cannot praise this disc highly enough.
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The use of a counter-tenor for alto parts is as close to original Bach as we can get nowadays. Bach would have used male voices in his choirs, but these would have been adolescents, whose voices broke much later in those days, not men singing in a trained falsetto. We are therefore seeking to reproduce a sound that can no longer be reproduced. I personally have nothing against female soloists in Bach; indeed, I have a very nice recording of Dame Janet Baker singing Bach, including BWV82. However, a good counter-tenor is also worth a listen.

Andreas Scholl is such a counter-tenor. Not only does he sing beautifully, but he also has a clear grasp of what he is trying to achieve, and of the profundity of Bach's music. The highlight here is the wonderful BWV82 "Ich habe genug", with the meltingly beautiful and moving aria "Schlummert ein". I'm not sure what it is about the story of Simeon and the child Jesus that brings out the best in composers, but it is also the highlight of Rachmaninov's Vespers. There is also BWV169, with its famous sinfonia, plus other arias from various Bach cantatas, plus BWV53, which was once attributed to Bach, but which is now known to be by Georg Melchior Hoffmann.

I have three full cantata sets, but this is a worthy addition to them.
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As far as I know, Bach's cantatas are not so often sung by countretenors. There may be lots of philological reasons, but, anyway: the common listener is more accostumed to male and female voices than to falsetto.
Thus, for example, I can easily recall great recordings by Susan Baker, Norman Prey or Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau of BMW82, and their rendition is so moving that tears easily fall down.
Scholl's cantatas do not follow this line, they are never "moving" in an easy going way. His measure and composure are extreme, his singing always precise and chiselled, so that this can sometimes appear a little "cold", but his maitrise is so high that sentiments are none theless conveyed, if the listener "listens": that is, IMHO, that these cantatas are not for casual listeners, cannot be appreciated at their full extent as background music.
The choice also of this disc's cantatas is in this direction, as they are all "intimate": here we find no highly rejoicing sounds, like for exemple in Richter's BWV51 (even the lightness of BWV53 is here full of countenance), but we have plenty of intimacy and meditation.
An additional note about Scholl voice. The more I listen to him, the more I find his texture similar to Emma Kirkby's one. Both voices are extremely pure, the purest in their register, and the best-fitting to Bach. OK Handel, Mozart comme-ci comme-ça, but Bach: ideal!
Bach's music is so supernatural and "mathematic" that their voices give us the most "authentic" Bach, putting apart philology. By converse, the sheeer beauty of these pure voices is also exaltated by Bach's music.
So, even though I personally prefer a more visceral approach to several cantatas, I think that the match Scholl-Bach is wonderful and I highly recommend this disc: my 4-star evaluation is connected more to my specific taste than to the objective value of this compilation.
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