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Bach arias in a superb collection




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The American soprano Arleen Augér is as well-known In Europe as America, and she was professor of voice at the Frankfurt Musikhochschule in the early 80s. All this experience and technique is brought to bear on a delectable selection of arias from the Bach cantatas. Helmuth Rilling, likewise a specialist, and the Bach-Collegium Stuttgart with the Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn - despite modern instruments - provide a precise yet accommodating accompaniment. Balance between voice and obbligati instruments ebbs and flows with a naturalness born of - yes - love of the music.

Faced with Bach's weekly cantata schedule, the result in 13 arias selected from as many cantatas, should at the very least be a humbling process. What kind of refiner's fire yielded these contemplative and ecstatic settings of words based on scripture? We know in part, yet marvel at the sheer impulsive industry with which Bach not only composed the music but often got down to the unmitigating labour of copying performing material on a weekly basis. Having myself often copied parts into the early hours, I have a glimpse of the arduous task.

Arleen Auger sings Bach. Copyright (c) 1988 Hanssler-VerlagAs a CD to mine deeply and gradually nominate your personal half-a-dozen favourites, let me whet appetites with three brief extracts. The first track contains a long-time favourite for school choirs and young sopranos nervously twitching before their first arduous aria [click for music]; the second, an introduction to an aria with that special Bach quality of ear-tickling in anticipation [click for music]; the third's pathos catches the throat with sheer beauty [click for music]. Johann Sebastian remains full of surprises of the joyful kind.


Copyright © Basil Ramsey, October 13th 1999 


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