On Deutsche Barocklieder, Harmonia Mundi's outstanding imprint Les Nouveaux Musiciens introduces German soprano Annette Dasch in a recital of German Baroque songs. Not one of these 18 selections is familiar, and that is good; it is an overlooked area of the repertory consisting of a monumental amount of material.
The tunes are divided into five intelligently arranged programs by subject -- Love, Precariousness, Peace, Nature, and Luck. Dasch is partnered by members of the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, who dive into this music with the aplomb and enthusiasm that is usually the Akademie's calling card. Dasch is responsive, as well, soaking up some of the euphoria created by the swinging, ebullient ensemble and projecting it through her voice.
As a whole, Deutsche Barocklieder offers a nice balance of spirited, extroverted songs one would typify as of the German Baroque along with some other pieces that are more introspective and moving. There is a wonderful sense of tenuousness in Dasch's voice at the start of Heinrich Albert's Letze Rede einer vormals stoltzen und sterbenden Jungfer (Last Speech of a Once-Proud, and Now Dying Spinster), demonstrating that Dasch, who frequently performs in European opera productions, is no stranger to vocal characterization. At one point during Johann Krieger's strophic Abend-Andacht, the continuo instruments drop out, leaving Dasch's voice alone for a verse, and the instrument is heard in all its purity and beauty. It is a breathtaking moment in a collection already well stocked in musical glories. Not to be outdone by the star performer here, the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin is allowed a couple of turns in the spotlight, once in a sprightly Canzona by Andreas Hammerschmidt and in the other with a rare Sonata in G by Johann Krieger.
The notes to Deutsche Barocklieder are German, French, and English, but the song texts are in German only. Although the total program is 63 minutes in length, the time spent with Dasch und ihre musikfreunde seems to pass by quickly. If one's interest is in the German Baroque, early lieder, or even just great singing, this should move to the top of one's want list.