Johann Sebastian Bach, Pygmalion, Raphael Pichon - Kothener Trauermusik

Published Monday 8th December 2014
Johann Sebastian Bach, Pygmalion, Raphael Pichon - Kothener Trauermusik
Johann Sebastian Bach, Pygmalion, Raphael Pichon - Kothener Trauermusik

STYLE: Choral
RATING 7 7 7 7 7 7 7
LABEL: Harmonia Mundi HMC902211

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

Several fascinating stories combine on this interesting release. When Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen died in 1728, his former Kapellmeister Johann Sebastian Bach had not forgotten the five brilliant years he had spent in his service. He dedicated to his memory a mourning cantata almost entirely based on the music of two major works of the mid-1720s, the Trauer-Ode and the St Matthew Passion. Although the score is lost, the wordbook and other sources of information outlined in the informative CD booklet have made it possible to reconstruct the work. It is certainly plausible and by using appropriate extracts from contemporary works by Bach it sounds authentic. Full credit to Raphael Pichon and Pygmalion for the performance and I have no hesitation in reporting that I thoroughly enjoyed hearing it. There has to be a "but" though so here it is: I greatly admire Johann Sebastian Bach and no matter what mood I am in he always has something that I want to hear. Christmas is not complete without his Christmas Oratorio, at Easter there are the great Passions, and whether I want vocal or instrumental music Bach has it. So why would I want to listen to Bach as programmed to fill a gap in his discography? Had the original score been rediscovered in a German library I would be first in line to buy a recording and while I would not be surprised if it sounded similar to this release equally I would not be surprised if it did not. So one cheer for the attempt and another for the performance but the full three cheers are withheld until the missing manuscript reappears.

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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