Johann Sebastian Bach, Cappella Amsterdam, Orchestra Of The Eighteenth Century, - Easter Oratorio

Published Saturday 10th March 2012
Johann Sebastian Bach, Cappella Amsterdam, Orchestra Of The Eighteenth Century, - Easter Oratorio
Johann Sebastian Bach, Cappella Amsterdam, Orchestra Of The Eighteenth Century,  - Easter Oratorio

STYLE: Choral
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
LABEL: Glossa GCD92115

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

It is fair to say that Johann Sebastian Bach is probably known better for his Passions than this Easter Oratorio but we do need to hear both parts of the story. One of the Passions would be sung on Good Friday with the congregation being sent home to contemplate the death of Christ until they returned on Easter Sunday to be reminded of his resurrection, at which point the tone of the music changes to reflect this good news. The Easter Oratorio (BWV 249) fits well within a Lutheran Easter service but is too short to fill a CD. The producers of this disc have hit upon the splendid idea of constructing a hypothetical Organ Concerto, brought together from instrumental movements from Cantatas BWV35 and 156, following on from an idea by Frans Brüggen himself which comes with a solid documentary basis in the erudite programme notes supplied by Anselm Hartinger, a music scholar at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. Pieter-Jan Belder plays delightfully and the idea works most excellently. Our only quibble is that once we have added in the Sinfonia and Adagio at the opening of the Oratorio it takes a long time before anyone starts singing - almost as though we have a double overture before the opera starts. (I told you it was a small quibble!) The Oratorio itself is splendid but this performance does face competition from the host of other recordings available. Our four soloists, Ilse Eerens, Michael Chance, Markus Schäfer and David Wilson-Johnson are all in fine voice but there are moments when we can hear that this is a live recording, although this is never enough to spoil our enjoyment. The choral singing from Cappella Amsterdam and the musical accompaniment from the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century are both outstanding. There are, as we have said, other recordings from which to choose. Personally, I incline (but only just) to Suzuki's Bach Collegium Japan version, mainly because the soloists are slightly stronger but Brüggen's joyful choral work is still well worth hearing.

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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