Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Bach - Cantatas for Solo Bass - Kooy/Herreweghe

Rating: 5/5


This is an outstanding disc.  There are a lot of very fine recordings of these cantatas by truly great singers and conductors, but I don't know of any which I prefer to this.

The three cantatas here are "Ich habe genug" BWV82, "Ich will den Kreatzstab gerne tragen" BWV56 and "Der Friede sei mit dir" BWV158.  All are wonderful works, full of Bach's spirituality and his unparalleled gift for both counterpoint and melody.  There are some extraordinarily affecting pieces here, and it's a fine collection of music.

It is the performances which really make this stand out, though.  Peter Kooy is simply magnificent, with a beautiful tone to his voice, impeccable technique and intonation and an engagement with the music and text which is deep and wholly natural-seeming.  For example, the fabulous aria "Schlummert ein" really does sound like a man contented with his life going peacefully and joyfully to meet his God.  Whether or not you believe in that (or any) God, it would be hard to remain unmoved by Kooy's performance.  Philippe Herreweghe's direction of his small, intimate orchestra and chorus is impeccable, bringing out all Bach's fabulous nuances and producing a beautiful, warm sound.  The players themselves (who include Monica Huggett and Marc Minkowski are excellent, and the superb solo oboe work deserves special mention, too – although I cannot find which of the three oboists plays the solos.  Whoever it is, all of them are unfailingly excellent.

The recorded sound is excellent, the notes are interesting and you get full texts and translations.  This is a wonderful disc all round, and I can recommend it very warmly.

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