J. S. Bach: Soprano Arias & Swedish folk chorales

Cover of Bach and Dala chorales CD

Maria Keohane, Camerata Kilkenny
58:10
Maya Recordings MCD1901

In the booklet, Kate Hearne writes that ‘the idea of pairing Bach’s music with Dala Chorales is an idea that has been with me for a long time’. 

Dala chorales come from a region in central Sweden where the first official psalm book in the Lutheran tradition was published in 1695, influenced as much by folk song as by the memories of what had been sung in the pre-Reformation masses. A number of these free chorale-like tunes are sung here by Maria Keohane, paired with seven Bach arias for soprano with obligato violin played by Maya Homburger, appearing here with Sarah McMahon and Malcolm Proud as Camerata Kilkenny.

The recording was made in the Propsteikirche Sankt Gerold in Austria, a small former Benedictine monastery. Details of the project, and how the performance was prepared are sketchy, but the booklet manages to convey the slightly folksy, Nordic, tree-spirit world that the Dalakorals conjure up.

The playing and singing is of a high standard as you would expect from the starry Swedish Maria Keohane and the Swiss violinist Maya Homburger. All the arias are just for soprano voice, violin and bc, and have all the elegance of chamber music, with perfectly matched and balanced partners listening to one another. This is how arias should be sung – not as if they were solos with an accompaniment in the background. Whether the pairing of the arias with the Dalakorals works for you I cannot predict, but you would not be sorry to have heard the Bach.

David Stancliffe

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