Elizabeth Futral

Bach: Solo Cantatas

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AllMusic Review by

Soprano Elizabeth Futral is featured on this CD of three solo cantatas by J.S. Bach, one very familiar, and two fairly obscure. Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen! is rightly one of the composer's most popular works, exuberant and uplifting. The meaning of Non sa che sia dolore, one of Bach's two Italian cantatas, is ambiguous with no scholarly consensus on exactly what its subject matter. It alludes to the departure of one of the composer's colleagues for a position in the landlocked city of Ansbach, but also cryptically seems to have a theme of seafaring. In any case, it's a lovely, valedictory farewell, gently melancholy except for its cheerful final aria. O holder Tag is a wedding cantata (not the Wedding Cantata, BWV 202), an eloquent expression of a bride's joy and her reflections on love. Futral has a warm, colorful voice that's at its best in the music's broadly lyrical passages, and in the recitatives, which she brings excitingly to life with supple expressiveness; in her performance, the recitatives are no mere filler, but essential, musically invigorating parts of the whole. Futral is fully secure in the more florid coloratura passagework, but she is not consistent in delivering them with the same effectiveness as the other movements. In the opening aria from Jauchzet Gott, her voice doesn't have the vibrant sheen that characterizes the best coloratura singing, which she does beautifully produce in the arias of the other two cantatas. J. Reilly Lewis leads the Washington Bach Consort, a period instrument ensemble, in bright, lively performances, although he doesn't always have the nuanced flexibility of tempo that can elevate performances of music of the Baroque era from the very good to the sublime. Each of the cantatas includes at least one obbligato instrument, and the soloists play admirably. The sound is clean and bright, with a good sense or presence.

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