Magazine article Gramophone

Cantatas, Volume 24: Altenburg/Warwick'

Magazine article Gramophone

Cantatas, Volume 24: Altenburg/Warwick'

Article excerpt

Cantatas, Volume 24: Altenburg/Warwick'

Cantatas Nos 12, 103, 108, 117, 146 & 166

Brigitte Geller sop William Towers, Robin Tyson countertens James Gilchrist, Mark Padmore tens Julian Clarkson, Stephen Varcoe basses Monteverdi Choir; English Baroque Soloists/Sir John Eliot Gardiner

Soli Deo Gloria (2) SDG107 (129' * DDD * T/t) Recorded live at the Schlosskirche, Altenburg on May 14,2000 & St Mary's Warwick on May 21, 2000

As joyful and awe-inspiring as Sir John Eliot Gardiner's commemorative Bach Cantata Pilgrimage surely was, it must also have been an arduous journey. The conductor s own performance diary, from which this set s exceptionally illuminating booklet-note is derived, suggests as much. The three cantatas on the second disc were to be presented in Warsaw, for example, but 'a last minute hitch with the Polish promoter sent the musicians to Warwick instead. And trouble with the Baroque organ in Altenburg, where the first disc was recorded, necessitated an unplanned intermission and 'much banging and hammering before No 146 could begin. Organist Silas Standage digs into the virtuoso solo part with gusto in this cantata's prefatory sinfonia, but one wonders whether the breathlessly fast tempo and occasional rhythmic unsteadiness resulted from a surplus of adrenalin.

Generally, in fact, this third instalment in the series is less consistently satisfying than its predecessors. Take the singers, for instance. Tenor Mark Padmore makes surprisingly heavy weather of the florid writing of 'Sei getreu, aile Pein' from No 12, though the similarly demanding aria in No 103 is negotiated with far greater aplomb, and his recitative in No 146 is a model of dramatic acuity and concision. …

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