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Solo cantatas by Bach are rarities, Matthias Goerne here giving us two of the most popular, BWV 56, Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen, composed in 1726 for the 19th Sunday after Trinity, and BWV 82, Ich habe genug, which dates from 1731. Both are contemplations on the release of the weary soul into death, the text of BWV 82, for the Purification, being particularly suited to solo bass since it is based on the words of Simeon familiar as the Nunc dimittis.

Goerne recorded these two cantatas for Decca nearly 20 years ago, a disc I cannot but imagine being superior to this new CD. The voice is now too lugubrious, too ill-focused to essay this music, overlaid with a persistent vibrato, unable to articulate passaggi cleanly and given to ungainly aspirates. True, Goerne is not helped by being recorded in a sepulchral acoustic that seems poorly balanced against the orchestra. I’m troubled, too, by orchestral playing that manages to appear both dryly academic and suffused with the kind of shallow sentiment that today too often passes for authentic emotion. This applies equally to the performance of the putative reconstruction for oboe d’amore of the A major Harpsichord Concerto BWV 1055.

I hold Goerne’s Schubert lieder recordings in the highest esteem and much regret my findings on these performances, which seem to me an ill-advised venture.

Brian Robins Read the full review on Agora Classica


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