Hermann Max / Das kleine Konzert

Wilhelm Friedemann Bach: Kantaten

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Wilhelm Friedemann Bach was J.S. Bach's oldest son and probably the one most directly marked by his influence. It has often been noted that the father's style was already outdated even well before his death in 1750. W.F. Bach tried mightily to update the venerable Lutheran cantata while remaining true to his father's way of doing things. Like J.S. Bach, he served as a city music director and clashed repeatedly with his superiors; eventually he died in poverty. The cantatas on this double-disc set were all written in the 1750s, and they provide an interesting introduction to the oddly hybrid quality of W.F.'s music. The old Lutheran chorales are still there, in position at or near the ends of each cantata, and in the alternation of contrapuntal chorus and virtuoso aria these pieces resemble J.S. Bach's cantatas in overall form. The listener gets the feeling, however, that W.F. was trying to push the envelope in any way he could think of. The cantata Dies ist der Tag (This is the day) includes an entire three-movement Sinfonia at the beginning, as if it were a short Italian opera. In Erzittert und fallet (Tremble and fall), the orchestra leaves the chorus to introduce a movement unaccompanied. Overall, the virtuosity level for the singers is ramped up, with pleasing effect in the fancy soprano-baritone duet "Komm, mein Hirte" (Come, my shepherd). Sample also the aria "Rauscht, ihr Fluten, donnernd Blitzen" (Roar, ye floods, and thundering lightning), one of a number of pieces nicely suited to the billowy soprano of veteran German singer Barbara Schlick. Recorded in 1991 in the Immanuelskirche in the city of Wuppertal, the sound is a bit distant, but text intelligibility is good and the mood is right.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Lasset uns ablegen die Werke der Finsternis
1 4:35
2 0:46
3 0:46
4 0:20
5 9:27
6 0:46
7 7:46
8 0:45
9 4:46
Es ist eine Stimme eines Predigers in der Wüste
10 6:42
11 1:21
12 7:28
13 1:58
14 5:31
15 0:51

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Dies ist der Tag
1 3:24
2 2:29
3 3:30
4 3:03
5 9:22
6 1:28
7 8:32
8 1:02
Erzittert und fallet
9 4:14
10 5:41
11 1:57
12 6:49
13 1:33
14 5:42
15 0:45
blue highlight denotes track pick