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.
As 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
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