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*** BACH: "Cantatas pour alto." Andreas Scholl, countertenor. Orchestre du Collegium Vocale. Philippe Herreweghe, conductor. (Harmonia Mundi)

June 21, 1998|Chris Pasles

Suddenly, there seem to be an abundance of countertenors, many of whom, fortunately, turn out to be accomplished, stylish and interesting singers. Andreas Scholl is one of them, here singing three of the four cantatas Bach wrote for a solo alto, probably intending them for a talented boy singer (but definitely not for a castrato, which would have been unthinkable in a Lutheran church). The texts are typically contemptuous of sinful life on this earth and full of yearning for grace. The music is typically magnificent in melodic line, rhythmic interest and textual painting. Scholl's voice is even and strong throughout the range, and his breath control is exemplary.

A bonus disc, called "Andreas Scholl: A Portrait." contains seven selections, including a lugubriously taken "Agnus Dei" from Bach's B-minor Mass but a dance-like "Bereite dich, Zion" from Bach's "Christmas Oratorio."

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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