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In terms of grasping the essence of the rhetorical state, Volle appears far more comfortable in the dark, rolling hills of Kreuzstab than the world-weary conceits of Ich habe genug and Cantata No 158, Der Friede sei mit dir, where abstraction of line and subtlety of colour become sine qua nons, apparent in the recorded feats of Hans Hotter, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (for Ristenpart, not Richter) and most recently Matthias Goerne. Again, flatness detracts, crucially at the mesmerising point in the first aria (from 3'40" to 4'32") where Bach takes the imagery at face value, climbing unimpeded through the line, through adversity and into a melisma of such devastating release (‘the Cross … leads me after my torments to God, into the promised land’) that after you’ve heard Barry McDaniel for Fritz Werner, the stakes become stratospheric.
If Volle is a
considerable disappointment, the instrumental fillers burst with life, full of
all the textural panache one associates with the Berliners. Raphael Alpermann’s
organ obbligato in the Sinfonia of Cantata No 169 stands out, exquisitely
characterised and with the glowing inner parts of this busy score radiantly
projected. Pictures abound in the booklet but there’s not a text to be seen.
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