Reviewed by Steven Whitehead
The album opens with "Alles Nur Nach Gottes Willen" (BWV 72, "All Things According To God's Will") that retells the Gospel story of Jesus healing a leper. Your reviewer knows no German and listened to the CD before reading the translation. But the music alone conveyed that someone has had some good news and is delighted about it. Indeed, my first impression was that if this music was performed by a chamber orchestra without any singing it would not have been out of place in one of Jane Austen's ball scenes. When we move on to "Liebster Jesu, Mein Verlangen" (BWV 32, Dearest Jesus, My Desire") the dance motif is still appropriate. This "Concerto In Dialogo" takes the form of a dialogue between the soul and Jesus. The soul is sung by the soprano Rachel Nicholls and the cantata starts with the soul's search for Jesus with Miss Nicholls' beautiful voice entwined with the oboe da caccia of Masamitsu San'nomiya in one of those quintessential Bach moments with the two parts spiralling upwards together in harmony despite their differences. If the hair on the back of your neck does not stand up, you are either bald or a screamo devotee. Then Jesus enters the piece sung, as was traditional, by the bass. On this recording he is the ever reliable Peter Kooij. Amazingly, the standard is maintained on "Meine Seufzer, Meine Tranen" (BWV 13, "My Sighs, My Tears") and "Herr Gott, Dich Loben Wir" (BWV 16, "Lord God We Praise You"). These four cantatas all come from Bach's third year of service in Leipzig, specifically from January 1726. That must have been an incredible month for churchgoers and, I suspect, those who attended local dances, as surely some of these tunes would have been "borrowed" by unscrupulous composers and reset for the entertainment of the dancers. Cross Rhythms keeps enthusing that this is a superb series and this disc is one of the best yet. Do not be deterred by the fact it is a "Super Audio CD". It must sound incredible on the proper equipment but it works on any CD player, for which this reviewer is deeply grateful.
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