Actus tragicusBach; Katharine Fuge, Carlos Mena, Jan Kobow, Stephan MacLeod, Ricercar Consort, Philippe PierlotCD17
MirareMIR 0023760127220022


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Three early Bach Cantatas, and in these simple, spiritually exalted performances, a reminder of what came before Bach...and yet how fully-formed his genius already was.

BWV18 has an astonishing opening Sinfonia, and with the characteristically plaintive sounds of the viol to the fore, and just one instrument or voice to a part, this speaks with a clarity and immediacy that's rare.

Then comes BWV106, the funeral cantata known as Actus tragicus, which has one of the loveliest, most soulful openings in any Bach cantata: a brace of viola da gamba, and above them two recorders, rocking gently, comfortingly, as we're reassured that God's time is the best of all times. The singers are wonderful, never over-acting, and managing to sound as though this marvellous work is being minted afresh for us on the spot.

The recording is a beauty: warm and full with plenty of bass, yet with all the soft-grained detail you could ask for. Only 49 minutes of music, but you won't need more; you'll just go straight back to the top and play it again...

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JS Bach: St Matthew Passion (Gabrieli Players/McCreesh)
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Pergolesi: Marian Vespers (Choir of New College, Oxford)