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HIPster Wars - News from the Bach Front - Communiqué 29,
This review is from: Bach J.S: Cantatas Vol 23 (Audio CD)
This is not a collection to which I will return readily though its near-excellence should be acknowledged.
First to an overarching point: it's just as wrong to say that every opera Mozart wrote is a masterpiece as it is to claim that every cantata that stemmed from the pen of Johann Sebastian Bach lays claim on our attention. The problem here with Volume 23 is that it lacks a haymaker of the order of BWV 63 (contained in Volume 18). For instance, the opening cantata `Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich' (BWV 150) fails to make a strong impression, the sheer beauty of `Leite mich in deiner Wahrheit' notwithstanding. The three works on the second disc are sturdy, refulgent representatives of Bach's craft without being masterpieces. IMO, the best work here is clearly am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats BWV 42 with its heavenly aria for Alto `wo zwei und drei versammlet sind'. As performed here, it is twelve minutes of pure bliss.
Jeggy is in fine form here (he is clearly switched on for BWV 42). The Monteverdi Choir sing with finesse and animation. None of the soloists strikes me as being a comet but they add lustre to proceedings (Daniel Taylor is listenable enough as a counter-tenor but how one longs to hear the likes of Janet Baker or Christa Ludwig in the aria above). The main caveat, as always, is the strings of the English Baroque Soloists. Once they start scratching away - just listen to the Sinfonia of the first track - one reaches for the flea-powder. Jeggy underwrote this venture so he was never going to fly around cohorts at his expense; not only are they monstered by a mere oboe but one's enjoyment of this survey is greatly militated by their vibrato-less twang and acidic timbre. What will happen to these poor devils once Jeggy passes on? It could be the pullet equivalent of the elephants' graveyard.
All in all, this is a fine enough collection.