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This intriguing program continues Goebel’s recent exploration of the music of the Bach family, so far concentrated on instrumental music The apparent odd man out this time is the Viennese court composer Francesco Conti (1682-1732), but his fine motet earns its place by dint of being one of the works copied out by J. S. Bach, who performed it at Cöthen in 1716. The disc’s generic title can be safely ignored, since it truly applies only to the well-known and deeply felt Johann Christoph Bach lament, which is given with violins replacing the dark viols that contribute so much to the piece’s profound effect.

The rest follows the familiar Goebel pattern of alternating between insightful, dramatic music-making and the downright perverse, but overall the excellent singing of Kožená tips the balance in favor of the disc. On face value, the subject matter, an ecstatic counter-Reformation text that moves from painful longing to joyous celebration of the mystical union of the soul with Christ, might seem an unlikely topic to attract the Lutheran Bach, but it’s worth recalling that Bach himself explored such sentiments in cantatas such as Ich geh und suche , BWV49. The performance gets off to a fine start, with Kožena’s rapt singing of the opening accompanied recitative immediately drawing in the listener. Bach would doubtless have admired not only the restraint with which Conti handles the rapturous text of the second aria, but also its lovely obligato violin solo, most winningly played by Stephan Schardt. Kožená’s singing of it is gorgeous.

Both the serene Bach aria Bekennen will ich , and the tiny secular cantata by his second son go well, but the highlight of the disc is the wonderful performance of the scena by Bach’s second youngest son, Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach, the so-called “Bückeburg Bach.” Composed in 1773, Die Amerikanerin was described as a “lyric painting.” Goebel is on his best behavior here, too, and the disc is worth hearing for this remarkable work, and its equally remarkable performance. Please click here to ask a question
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  • Seller location: Nelson, Nelson Bays, NZ

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