Bach: Peasant Cantata, Amore traditore, Non sa che sia dolore

Mojca Erdmann, Dominik Wörner SB, Bach Collegium Japan, Masaaki Suzuki

Vol. 7 of Suzuki’s Secular cantatas explores the scoring of the Peasant Cantata  that has soprano and bass soloists and a flute and horn in addition to strings and continuo, and so couples it with the two secular cantatas that set Italian texts, Non sa che sia dolore  which has prominent flute obbligati  with the soprano and Amore traditore  for the bass.

The potpourri of folk music, tavern songs and social commentary in the ‘Peasant Cantata’ provide Bach with a licence to step outside his normal, serious style and let us see something of his social life and more rustic context.The music is tuneful, but rarely moving. I found Erdmann a more convincing soloist in this semi-operatic burlesque, with her nimble voice and dramatic sense of expression, and certainly she is very at home in the anguish of leave-taking that is the core of Non sa che sia dolore. Wörner’s background is in church music, and hitherto I have heard him most under Suzuki in the church cantatas. This suggests to my ears he is rather too ‘correct’ in a role where a certain amount of rustic jollity, rolling in the hay and raising a glass could do with a more plummy sound: he sounds a bit prim for his more racy lyrics! I though he was better in Amore traditore.The playing – specially the flute and horn (as well as the unattributed Dudelsack) – is fine, without, in the strings especially, quite capturing every dramatic innuendo. Suzuki’s players don’t, as far as I know, play many Mozart operas and you really need that sense of underscoring the drama that those who play in opera pits absorb over time.

But this is a worthy part of the Suzuki oeuvre, and given that there are few recordings of all the secular cantatas, will be widely welcomed.

David Stancliffe