Here's a collection of Bach pieces where the performances fit together exceptionally well. The basic sound is that of Canada's veteran Baroque ensemble Tafelmusik under violinist and director Jeanne Lamon: smooth, bright, French in its light seductiveness. Sample the almost accentless Rondeau from the Suite in A minor, a violin-and-strings transcription (and according to musicologist Joshua Rifkin a reconstruction of an original version) of the Suite in B minor for orchestra, BWV 1067; you couldn't call it gutsy, but the degree of control and consistency is impressive. What's best about this album is that the qualities of Lamon's group are put to ideal use in supporting the rich voice of Canadian countertenor Daniel Taylor in a pair of solo cantatas for alto and ensemble. The Cantata No. 54, "Widerstehe doch der Sünde," BWV 54, is accompanied here by a small organ, not a perfectly authentic practice but one that works well with the chamber dimensions of this cantata and its air of quiet resistance to temptation. Taylor's succulent vocals, the measured grace of the strings, and the modest scope of the program combine for an hour of music that's intimate without being especially inward, seductive yet even-tempered and sober. Analekta's engineering helps things along with a faithfully captured church ambiance that picks up the texture of the string playing without being overbearing. A very fine Bach recording that will ensnare you from the start.
Bach: Cantatas BWV 54 & 170; Concerto BWV 1060; Suite BWV 1067 Review
by James Manheim