The two Bach cantatas on this disc, one secular and one rather jocularly sacred, qualify as genuine Bach rarities. The larger of the two, Der Zufriedengestellte Aeolus (Aeolus with Mind Set at Rest), BWV 205 (1735), is the kind of work that would have seemed, and perhaps may still seem, intolerably trivial for those who think of Bach's music as a kind of spiritual pinnacle. For an age that likes to know what its artists ate for breakfast and to place them in their workaday worlds, however, it's both a delight and a goldmine. Thematically atypical even among Bach's secular choral pieces, it is a festival work honoring one Doktor August Friedrich Müller, a Leipzig professor, on the occasion of his name day. The text features a brief and entirely contrived disputation among four mythological figures: Aeolus (the wind god), Zephyrus (the god of warm breezes), Pomona (the goddess of fruit trees), and Pallas (otherwise known as Pallas Athena, the goddess of wisdom), together with a Chorus of Winds. In the end, at Pallas' urging, all agree that warm winds must blow on the day of her "beloved son" Müller, "the joy and delight of the Muses." This conceit gives Bach soprano, alto, tenor, and bass arias and an opening chorus in which the winds threaten to "burst apart, shatter to pieces the crypt that sets limits to our rage" -- a joke that Bach plays to the hilt with trumpets and drums in a setting akin to the opening chorus of the Magnificat, BWV 243. The entire cantata has a lighthearted warmth mirrored in the accompanying Cantata No. 110, "Unser Mund sei voll Lachens" (Let our mouths be full of laughter), where a big opening chorus is deployed in service of a depiction of laughter itself. Conductor Diego Fasolis and his group I Barocchisti, from the Italian part of Switzerland, do an admirable job with Bach's lighter side here, joining their usual clarity in modest-sized historical-instrument performances to a novel program that's a lot of fun. The Coro della Radio Svizzera (Swiss Radio Chorus), 22 singers strong, adapts well to what must for many of them have been an unfamiliar kind of clipped intonation, and the varied set of soloists (Der Zufriedengestellte Aeolus includes soprano Nancy Argenta and tenor Charles Daniels) is uniformly superb. A highly recommended item that will fill out any good Bach collection.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Cantata No. 205, "Zerreisset, zersprenget, zertrümmert die Gruft," BWV 205 (BC G36)|
|Cantata No. 110, "Unser Mund sei voll Lachens," BWV 110 (BC A10)|