Philippe Jaroussky – Bach & Telemann. Sacred Cantatas
Petra Müllejans, violin & direction
This album by countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, simply entitled Bach & Telemann. Sacred Cantatas, is remarkable in many respects. It features an excellent, acclaimed singer accompanied by an orchestra (the Freiburger Barokorchester, conducted by Petra Müllejans), which plays with great accuracy and inspiration, and presents four sacred cantatas by two of the most important Baroque composers, who share the same spirituality and technical rigour.
Bach’s cantatas are Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust, composed in 1726 for the sixth Sunday after Trinity, and Ich habe genug, written for bass and performed for the feast Purification of Mary of 1727. Bach wrote also a version for soprano in 1731, replacing the oboe obbligato with a flute. Telemann’s cantatas were both written for Passiontide: the first, Der am Ölberg zagende Jesus, was written in 1741 and describes Christ’s agonies in the garden of Gethsemane, while the second, Jesus liegt in letzten Zügen, is a meditation on Christ’s death, composed during Telemann’s residence in Frankfurt, but the year of composition is unknown because the original score is lost and only a copy by Johann Balthasar König, Telemann’s successor, survives.
This is Jaroussky’s first recording in German, but it is simply amazing. His voice has a pure and light timbre which is ideal for the religious feeling of these compositions, alongside with any other kind of feeling (joy, sadness and gratitude) which a resourceful singer can find in Bach and Telemann’s inspiring music. In my opinion, the most impressive moment is the low, whispered beginning of Telemann first cantata, Der am Ölberg zagende Jesus, which is so unexpected that I was really impressed, but this is only one of the wonders of Sacred Cantatas. This album offers inexhaustible hints of reflection and moments of great intensity and surprise. It is a homogenous, bright recording and I highly recommend it to all of you.