This CD was recorded in 2001 but has only now been
released. The counter-tenor Charles Humphries and the baroque ensemble
Kontrabande are featured artists.
It was a good idea to arrange the music as a concert on a disc. The Sinfonias act as instrumental interludes between the three main works, two Bach cantatas and an oboe d'amore concerto. An interesting oddity is the single aria of the so-called Cantata BWV 53 which was attributed to Bach but is now accepted as being by Hoffmann.
Of the two Bach cantatas BWV 170 presents the biggest challenge because it contains the aria Wie jammen mich doch die verkehrten Herzen
(How I lament the wayward hearts) which contains vividly descriptive writing illustrating the lamenting, trembling and so on in the text. It has an obbligato organ solo of considerable complexity, played very well here by either Laurence Cummings or James Johnstone both of whom are credited here as keyboard players. Apart from being so musically complex it is a very long aria, lasting 6:33. Only here does the soloist sound slightly under stress. Elsewhere Charles Humphries makes a lovely sound providing sensitivity as well as power when required. He is helped by the recording which handles the dynamics of his voice extremely cleanly, more so than that of Robin Blaze on Suzuki's BIS SACD with which I compared it.
Alexandra Bellamy is a well established oboist and makes a beautiful job of the Concerto BWV 1055 which has come down to us scored for harpsichord but is here reconstructed as the work Bach may well have originally intended. Hoffmann's single aria is attractive and well worth hearing. The playing of the Sinfonias by Kontrabande is first class.
The accompanying notes by Steve Mullany are helpful and detailed though a bit small to read.
The recording is another of Colin Attwell's Q-Lab system productions which uses just a pair of well positioned microphones to capture a very real sound picture. To my ears it does better than many a multi-miked issue and will satisfy all purchasers I am sure.
Masterwork Index: Cantata 54
~~ Cantata 170