JS Bach

BBC Music Magazine - - Choral & Song -

St Matthew Pas­sion – ex­cerpts; Can­tatas – arias and sin­fo­nias

Ben­jamin Appl (bari­tone);

Con­certo Köln

Sony 19075851622 67:02 mins

If any­thing shines a spot­light on vo­cal cre­den­tials it is the mu­sic of Bach: the emo­tional de­mands crossed with the need for con­sis­tency of tone over an of­ten-broad vo­cal range makes his mu­sic ev­ery bit as tax­ing as the op­er­atic world of his con­tem­po­rary, ★an­del, even for an artist as for­mi­da­bly equipped as Ben­jamin Appl. The present record­ing is an ap­peal­ing col­lec­tion of arias, mostly from can­tatas with two from the

St Matthew Pas­sion in­ter­spersed with four in­stru­men­tal sin­fo­nias fea­tur­ing in­stru­men­tal so­los.

Justly cel­e­brated as an or­a­to­rio and Lieder singer, Appl com­bines ex­pres­sive dex­ter­ity with flaw­less dic­tion. ★is ap­proach is not con­ven­tion­ally rev­er­en­tial. The Pas­sion med­i­ta­tion ‘Es ist voll­bracht’ has an ap­pro­pri­ately in­ward qual­ity, but Ju­das’s re­pen­tence aria from the St Matthew Pas­sion has cred­i­ble op­er­atic ur­gency. Appl’s su­perb breath con­trol brings enor­mous div­i­dends to the longer, al­most in­stru­men­tal phrases typ­i­cal of Bach. ★is up­per range is un­de­ni­ably im­pres­sive en­com­pass­ing both a heroic tenor ring and light, flute­like tones; the lower end is not as res­o­nant, but his per­for­mances are al­ways com­pelling and well­cap­tured in an ex­cel­lent record­ing. Con­certo Köln ac­com­pany stylishly and bring earthy zest to the more ro­bust in­stru­men­tal move­ments. Jan Smaczny

PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★

RECORD­ING ★★★★★

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