J S Bach, Gillian Keith, Armonico Consort, Christopher Monks - The Complete Solo Soprano Cantatas Vol 1

Published Friday 19th May 2017
J S Bach, Gillian Keith, Armonico Consort, Christopher Monks - The Complete Solo Soprano Cantatas Vol 1
J S Bach, Gillian Keith, Armonico Consort, Christopher Monks  - The Complete Solo Soprano Cantatas Vol 1

STYLE: Classical
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 165796-25853
LABEL: Signum Classics SIGCD488

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

Soprano Gillian Keith joins the acclaimed Baroque ensemble Armonico Consort under Christopher Monks for the first release in a three disc, crowd-funded series featuring the solo cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach. The cantatas hold a special place amongst performers and devotees of Bach's music. Whether sacred or secular, these works provide incredible variety for listeners and players alike. Some contain elements of storytelling similar to arias and recitatives from his great Passions; many have instrumental movements and solo passages that rival any of his concerti, and are indeed borrowed directly from some of the most famous. Frankly, if you do not find your two tapping as you listen to this disc please check that your foot is properly connected. Not surprisingly, Bach's cantatas are often incredibly virtuosic, demanding as much technical ability, style, and understanding of the music as any of his other works. Miss Keith certainly rises to the challenges presented by the music but it has to be said that there are more than a few recordings of the cantatas available and sometimes it seems that every soprano who has ever cleared her throat in a recording studio has had a go at the Wedding Cantata. While Gillian Keith has certainly done a fine job I cannot say that it is the best I have heard. For what it is worth, if I had to chose, I would take Carolyn Sampson's recording to my desert island but, thankfully, there is no reason we cannot have both. I certainly enjoyed this first volume in what is a proposed three disc series. The featured cantatas are numbers 82a, 202 (the famous "Wedding Cantata") and 210 and plenty of interesting background is provided in the CD booklet. Special praise must go to the Armonico Consort who hold their own without trying to take over the recital and any group that can come up with "Monteverdi's Flying Circus" are going to be worth hearing. We look forward to volume two of the Bach set.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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