German baritone Matthias Goerne has never sounded more like his teacher Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau than he does here, with gentle, profoundly calm lines wrapping themselves around the livelier music of the Freiburger Barockorchester under director Gottfried von der Goltz. Some listeners have found Harmonia Mundi's sound engineering too smooth and gauzy when it comes to Goerne's voice, but one would guess that this was intentional: Berlin's Teldex Studio can produce edgy, immediate sounds when called upon to do so. Goerne has taken the role of the heavy in these highly poetic cantatas for bass (which, if you were worried, are perfectly in range for a baritone), which draw contrasts in various ways between bleak death and the dancing of the soul above it all, conveyed in several places by the solo oboe d'amore of Katharina Arfken. All the engineers do is follow Goerne's lead, and the result is strangely hypnotic. The equal role of the orchestra is underscored by the presence of two instrumental works, both unusual: the program opens with the Sinfonia from the Cantata No. 21, "Ich hatte viel bekümmernis," BWV 21, which isn't generally heard in this role, and the Concerto for oboe d'amore in A major is a reconstruction of the lost original of what is usually heard as the Harpsichord Concerto No. 4, BWV 1055. Certainly there are other valid approaches to singing Bach, but this one is both beautiful and fully thought through.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis, BWV 21|
|Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen, BWV 56|
|Concerto for oboe d'amore, reconstruction from Harpsichord Concerto No. 4, BWV 1055 in A major|
|Ich habe genug, BWV 82|