Angelika Kirchschlager – Bach: Arias (2002)
MP3 (CBR 320 kbps) – 183 MB | 01:12:04
Genre: Classical, Vocal | Label: Sony Classical

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This is a beautiful recording. The music is great and includes some of Bach’s most famous arias, as well as several less so; however, about two thirds are slow, solemn, devout, and often mournful. The singing is wonderful. Angelika Kirchschlager’s voice, flawlessly produced even in the very low register dictated by baroque tuning, is smooth as silk and warm as velvet. Her intonation is immaculate, and her breath control lets her spin out and shape endless phrases; every note is alive and expressive. The orchestra is excellent, its rich but transparent sound a perfect background to the voice; the oboes are particularly prominent, with the bassoon sometimes acting as continuo. There is one instrumental sinfonia, from Cantata No. 156, better known as the slow movement of a piano concerto; here, the oboist has the solo line, embellishing it with great gusto. Carmignola’s playing of the violin obbligatos, though undoubtedly “authentic,” is less persuasive: in the “Erbarme dich” from the St. Matthew Passion, his rhythms, with exaggerated double-dotting, are jerky and he gets ahead of the orchestra; the “Laudamus te” from the Mass in B Minor comes out very clipped and disjointed. Kirchschlager’s approach is mellower and more lyrical, though she tries to match his style. Among the program’s highlights are “Schlummert ein,” the lullaby from Cantata No. 82, with its beguilingly lovely, peaceful melody, and “Wo zwei und drei versammelt sind,” from Cantata No. 42, remarkable for its complex orchestral introduction and interludes and its dramatic middle section for voice and continuo alone. The program ends with the beloved chorale melody Bach used countless times: “Wie soll ich dich empfangen” from the Christmas Oratorio. – Edith Eisler

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