BBC Music Magazine - - Reviews -

Mem­bra Jesu nos­tri

The Chapel Choir of Trin­ity Hall, Cam­bridge; Or­pheus Bri­tan­ni­cus; Newe Vialles/an­drew Arthur Resonus RES10238 70:17 mins

If we didn’t know dif­fer­ently it would be par­don­able to sup­pose that Bux­te­hude’s seven-can­tata cy­cle was the prod­uct of a fer­vent south­ern Catholi­cism more suited to Spain than Stock­holm (for which city it was pos­si­bly com­mis­sioned). The idea of seven med­i­ta­tions each fo­cus­ing graph­i­cally on a cor­po­real as­pect of the cru­ci­fied Christ sug­gests some­thing dis­tant from the Lutheran mind-set; some­thing wreathed in in­cense, lit by gut­ter­ing can­dles and il­lus­trated by El Greco. Yet the lan­guage has much in com­mon with some of the po­etic texts Bach set; and, from the first notes, the mu­sic speaks res­o­lutely of North Ger­many

(al­beit as An­drew Arthur’s spa­cious di­rec­tion un­der­lines, with in­cur­sions from Italy). And there’s an­other para­dox too. For just as a con­tem­pla­tion of the nailed hands, the pierced side, the spit­tle-flecked face might sup­pose a mu­sic suf­fused with grief and pen­i­tence, more of­ten than not, breast-beat­ing yields to a sense of joy and op­ti­mism born of the prom­ise of sal­va­tion in­car­nate in the cho­sen images.

To these para­doxes this lat­est record­ing adds an­other. For whether you in­cline to the one-toa-part blueprint favoured by The Six­teen and Can­tus Cölln (whose cul­ti­vated Ger­man-style Latin adds il­lu­mi­nat­ing pi­quancy), or the cham­ber choir read­ings of Gar­diner or Koop­man, the col­le­giate blend of the Trin­ity ★all Choir, se­duc­tive and rav­ish­ing as it is, adds a plush Angli­can gloss that some­times works against the edgy grain of the al­ways-com­pelling in­stru­men­tal con­tri­bu­tions from Newe Vialles and Or­pheus Bri­tan­ni­cus – the lat­ter’s vo­cal con­sort elo­quently shoul­der­ing the arias’ var­i­ous so­los and ex­pres­sively cal­cu­lated en­sem­bles. Paul Riley PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★


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