Teddy Tahu Rhodes

Bach: Arias

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New Zealander Teddy Tahu Rhodes' bass baritone sounds like it has become even deeper and more burnished in this selection of Bach arias than it did in his first solo recitals, released in 2003 and 2004. The gravity of the material may be a factor in the dark weightiness of his vocal color, which is entirely appropriate and effective here. His technique is secure, giving him the flexibility to negotiate the intricacies of the music as well as the ability to spin out luxuriously long legato lines. His warmly enveloping voice is ideal for these arias, many of which offer benevolent messages of comfort and solace. The two arias from the St. Matthew Passion are highlights of the album. They're exceptionally lovely solos, and Rhodes brings to them a heightened expressivity. His voice blends beautifully with that of soprano Sara Macliver, who joins him on two tracks. Apart from the St. Matthew Passion excerpts, most of the selections are taken from various cantatas, but Ich habe genug is included in its entirety. It's one of the composer's most urgently emotional works, and Rhodes is effectively poignant. Anthony Walker and Brett Weymark share the duties in leading the Orchestra of the Antipodes in performances of breathtaking subtlety and delicacy. The orchestra's tone is sweet but earthy, characteristics that could also describe the music itself, and the fit is revelatory in its aptness. ABC Classics' sound quality is uncharacteristically crowded and cramped. It's not exactly a question of volume or balance, but the voice and the instruments both somehow seem to be on the verge of drowning each other out, a problem that might have been avoided had there been more of a sense of spaciousness.

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