I have long been an admirer of Philippe Herreweghe's occasional cantata series - here's hoping that this new disc does not pass under the radar as the big cycles by Suzuki and Gardiner continue to unfold. Herrweghe has never been as robust as Suzuki or Gardiner, but his more contemplative approach really pays dividends in this record of cantatas devoted to earthly toil and death as a sweet release from it. The disc contains some of Bach's most beautiful cantatas. 'Ich bin vergnuegt mit meinem Gluecke' for solo soprano, a cantata on the theme of being content with one's lot, is movingly sung by Dorothee Mields. Her flute-like timbre provides a lovely contrast to the violin and oboe obbligato part of the aria 'Ich esse mit Vergnuegen mein weniges Brot' ('I eat with contentment my little bread'). Best of all is the early work 'Komm, du suesse Todesstunde' ('Come, sweet hour of death'). Countertenor Matthew White delivers an expressive account of the opening aria, while tenor Hans-Joerg Mammel sings affectingly of his desire to meet his saviour. The cantata ends with a quietly joyous and dancing chorus: this Lutheran vision of death was ultimately an uplifting and comforting one. The playing and singing is consistently oustanding, but the disc is worth it for this piece alone in my view.
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