Monday, December 8, 2014

J. S. Bach Magnificat in E flat BWV 243a

• Deborah York: soprano
• Bogna Bartozs: contralto
• Jorg Durmuller: tenor
• Klaus Mertens: bass

The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir
Conducted by Ton Koopman

If you ever sang in the chorus of a performance of Bach's Magnificat, one of the great masterworks of Western music, it was probably the the later version in D Major.   This is the earlier version a half step higher, though I don't have a score so I can't be certain of the exact keys in the various movements.  One of the biggest differences that jump out at me - other than the four extra movements inserted into the text - is the use of two recorders instead of two flutes.  It may be because of the difficulty of playing in E-flat on baroque flute, though recorders certainly don't have any problem playing in either that or in D.  Oddly, in this recording the recorders are quite a bit more audible than period flutes - which can play louder - are.  I don't know why that is. Also, a surprise, is how much of the theorbo lute can be heard.  Most of the people who have commented on its inclusion in the instrumentation have theorized that it would have been inaudible.

I like most of the tempos in this performance, generally faster than some others. It has a lightness that some of the others don't.   Another thing I really like is in the Deposuit potentes de sedes aria sung by the tenor, Jorg Durmuller,  in which the exaltation of the humble is given at least as much emphasis as the powerful being thrown down from their seats.   But a masterpiece that contains as much potential as Bach's setting contains enough room for many different and entirely valid areas to point out.

Here is a performance of that movement by one of the greatest tenors in history, Fritz Wunderlich, with an orchestra that shows the transition from the string heavy, romantic orchestra to one more in keeping with baroque practice.

Stuttgarter Bachorchester
Director Marcel Couraud

No comments:

Post a Comment