JuSt Bach

Johannette Zomer soprano, Bart Schneemann baroque oboe, Tulipa Consort
61:00
Channel Classics CCS 39917
Cantata sinfonias and arias + BWV 202

I cannot commend this. In spite of some lovely moments – mainly of playing – the overall quality of musicianship is below par. In spite of singing with a number of distinguished directors, she begins the aria Mein gläubiges Herze  from Cantata 68 with a terrible ‘come hither’ scoop up to the first note. And while some of her singing is controlled and lovely, she has one of those voices that are permanently smiling.

The instrumental playing is patchy too; the CD opens with the Ouverture to the First Suite, and the bassoon’s inability to play the fast passagework rhythmically is sadly evident in his first exposed passage in bars 28 & 29, and the upper strings are very hurried too in bars 89 & 90. Later the bassoon is better, but makes a dull, fluffy sound, and the string accompaniment in the aria Wie zittern und wanken  from BWV 105 has absolutely no give, so any interplay that there might have been between voice and oboe seems strictly forbidden.

The music of course is wonderful, but this anthology is produced with the Smooth Classics  of Classic FM  in mind, so it is difficult to see to which of EMR’s readers it might appeal. It is recorded in a church, but the acoustics are not always very clear. All that said, however, it looks from the photos in the notes as if they are enjoying themselves!

David Stancliffe