This release is the 16th item in a Bach cantata series from violinist/conductor Sigiswald Kuijken and his vocal/instrumental group La Petite Bande. It is not a complete cycle of Bach cantatas but a set covering the entire liturgical year; this group of four covers Pentecost and the following Sunday. Even in Kuijken's stripped-down version these are festive, shiny works with three trumpets, timpani, and organ. Here those trumpets are natural, keyless instruments, and the trio of Jean-François Madeuf, Jean-Charles Denis, and Graham Nicholson will be a major draw in themselves for historical brass fans; they achieve tonally precise, delicate effects that are still rare in this realm. As far as the minimalist forces covering the rest of the music, you pay your money and you take your choice. There is substantial evidence in favor of Kuijken's group of four soloists who themselves constitute the entire "choir"; there is also substantial evidence against it. Most distinctive here is the work of the quartet of singers, who cultivate a vibratoless but nevertheless detailed sound that ignores the fact that many of Bach's soloists might also have been active as opera singers. You may find that they fulfill Kuijken's directive to pay attention to the text; you may find them extremely mannered or that the effect is that of one of those child's whistles where the tone can be manipulated by sliding a stopper through the tube. What you won't find is any difficulty in hearing what the musicians are doing; this series, recorded by the Accent label in a sequence of Belgian churches, has been a sonic delight from start to finish. Sample well, and if you don't find the overall effect fey, then proceed.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|O ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe, BWV 34|
|Erhöhtes Fleisch und Blut, BWV 173|
|Erwünschtes Freudenlicht, BWV 184|
|Gelobet sei der Herr, BWV 129|