Johann Sebastian Bach, Pulcinella, Ophélie Gaillard - Bach Arias

Published Tuesday 5th February 2013
Johann Sebastian Bach, Pulcinella, Ophélie Gaillard - Bach Arias
Johann Sebastian Bach, Pulcinella, Ophélie Gaillard - Bach Arias

STYLE: Classical
RATING 7 7 7 7 7 7 7
LABEL: Aparte AP045

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

No, I hadn't heard of the piccolo cello either. It was a smaller version of the cello with its range extended upwards by the addition of a fifth string and was popular for a few years at the beginning of the 18th century. On this pleasant release the French cellist Ophélie Gaillard has gathered a team from the Pulcinella Ensemble and invited along some talented soloists: Sandrine Piau (soprano), Emiliano Gonzalez Toro (tenor) and Christophe Dumaux (alto). The programme includes some beautiful cantatas written by Johann Sebastian Bach (born 1685) in Leipzig from 1723 to his death in 1750, interspersed with masterpieces from the 'Schübler' Chorales and Orgelbüchlein. Pulcinella is a group of period instrument soloists, gathered in a chamber spirit around cellist Ophélie Gaillard. The ensemble's first recording, devoted to Vivaldi's complete Cello Sonatas was acclaimed by the international press in 2006. The following year its tribute to the cellist and composer Luigi Boccherini also received excellent reviews. Now we hear what they make of Bach and the result is most enjoyable. Bach's arias are always tuneful and here the singing breathes life into them. The piccolo cello does not sound as strange as I expected and the level of musicianship from all players is outstanding. While not wishing to decry the singing which is uniformly good the stand-out tracks for this reviewer were instrumental: Chorale 'Schübler' (BWV 645 and 650). To be fair the sung pieces are in German which I find hard listening but this is very much a personal quibble and anyone who wants to follow Johann Sebastian on some interesting musical byways will enjoy this release although it is, perhaps, a little too esoteric for the general listener.

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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