Music to mourn Prince Leopold

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Avie AV2241


Taverner Consort and Players

Andrew Parrott conductor

‘English conductor and early music specialist Andrew Parrott’s recent recording of his own reconstruction of the work with his Taverner Consort presents again this watershed performance in Bach’s career, not to mention that of his wife, for whom this was probably one of her last courtly appearances; she increasingly dedicated her time and talents to the demands of motherhood.

With great nuance, rhetorical power, and natural agility Emily Van Evera sings the three soprano arias—all of them from the Matthew Passion, two being the most plaintively expressive numbers from that work and the last an expansive plea for the end to grieving—that would have shown the wide ranging vocal abilities of the composer’s wife.

Parrott has also written a book on the nature of Bach’s choruses in which he argues persuasively that Bach typically had only one singer on each part. These are the performing forces Parrott deploys here. Usually given ponderous overemphasis from far too many singers even in “historically informed” versions, the choruses under Parrott become far more intense and foreboding. These movements achieve a power all the more tragic for the intimacy of their delivery especially in the final chorus—also the last of the Mathew Passion— where the mourners gaze into the crypt with lulling the body to sleep with their voices. A movement originally written to lament a heavenly king becomes a majestic tribute to a princely patron and, now again, a monument to the glittering musical pair that served him so well.’

From ‘Leopold’s Last Send-off’, David Yearsley, www.counterpunch.org, Apr 2012

‘The recording is marvelous. Parrott paces everything beautifully, the soloists are inspired, and chorus and period musicians are totally up to snuff, with great sound and a very informative set of program notes, including a detailed explanation by Parrott of how the work was reconstructed.  So we can salute the entry of a "new" work into the Bach canon.  Since the major part of the piece is culled from two of Bach's greatest works, the result is of the highest quality from the Leipzig maestro.  Highly recommended!’ 

From 'A "New" Work by Johann Sebastian Bach', Arthur S Leonard, www.artleonardobservations.com, Oct 2011 

‘This recording is not simply a dry reconstruction of some lost music, but first-class Bach superbly played and sung.  … There are no criticisms here. This is a marvellous album for neophyte Bach lovers as well as veteran listeners.’

From editorial review by Craig Zeichner, www.ariama.com, Jan 2012