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Bach on Death: Both Joyful and Terrifying

*** BACH Cantatas and Arias, Ian Bostridge, tenor; Europa Galante; Fabio Biondi, director, Virgin Veritas

April 15, 2001|CHRIS PASLES

It takes a leap of faith or imagination to share what Bach took for granted in these various meditations on death-that it is a welcome, joyful portal for the penitent believer and a terrifying passage for the sinner. Bostridge captures both reactions strongly, running an artistic risk in issuing a disc that dwells so heavily on dark thoughts. His lean, light tenor finds its loveliest flights in the gentle, dreamy lines of Cantata 82a, "Ich habe genug" (It is enough), and the comforting ones of "Sanfte soll mein Todeskummer" (Sweet shall my death agony be) from the Easter Oratorio. But he is also vigorous in depicting a triumphant Christ cheered by multitudes (the aria from Cantata No. 43) or the lone Christian defending himself from the unrighteous (Cantata 139).

The period instrumental group Europa Galante gives Bostridge warm support and allows Fabio Biondi, its leader, opportunities for dazzling violin solos. Three appropriately moody orchestral selections fill out the disc.

*

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

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