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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CKD373
Recording details: February 2010
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Ben Turner
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Release date: April 2011
Total duration: 29 minutes 0 seconds

'Matthew Halls neatly juxtaposes bustling vitality and an unforced conversational quality in the first part of the Sinfonia [of the Easter Oratorio], with the three natural trumpets sounding particularly shapely and relaxed. The chorus is impressively disciplined and radiant in the opening chorus, during which rapid duet passages are delivered impeccably by James Gilchrist and Peter Harvey. Rachel Brown's flawless flute is an eloquent counterpart to Carolyn Sampson's enchanting gentleness in the aria 'Seele, deine Spezereien', and Halls controls its pizzicato bass-line with benevolent finesse. Gilchrist almost whispers the yearningly beautiful tenor part of 'Sanfte soll mein Todeskummer' and the aria is all the more special because of Halls's expressive handling of the delicate pastoral accompaniment of recorders and muted strings; I've heard many lovely performances of this aria but do not recall hearing the text communicated with such heart-rending consolation as this' (Gramophone) » More

'Director Matthew Halls fields a choir of 16 voices rather than the one-voice-to-a-part approach favoured by Paul McCreesh in his recording of the Easter Oratorio (DG Archiv). In this instance, I prefer the larger group of singers which enlivens the choruses with greater vigour and provides a fairer balance with Bach's imposing ensemble. In the expressive Adagio section of the resplendent opening Sinfonia, Halls, like Gustav Leonhardt (Philips), opts for a solo oboe rather than a flute, Bach's later choice of instrument … oboist Alexandra Bellamy's phrasing and articulation illuminate the poetic content of the music, as does that of flautist Rachel Brown in her accompaniment of the extended soprano aria, tenderly sung by Carolyn Sampson' (BBC Music Magazine) » More

'In the 1730s Bach drew together elements of his sacred music, most famously in the six cantatas of the Christmas Oratorio. His two works for the present period of the church year are equally fascinating. That for Ascension has always been popular, with its trumpet-dominated choruses and exquisite alto and soprano solos (Carolyn Sampson is outstanding here). The Easter Oratorio, with its strong narrative structure, has found less favour, but is so well done here as to quell all doubts about the libretto. Matthew Halls directs sprightly singers and accomplished players' (The Observer)

'Linn has given us a roster of the Retrospect Ensemble's participants in the present recording … Halls observes the distinction between soli and ripieno textures in the choral movements, calling on soloists from the choir for appropriate passages. Halls' interpretations are above reproach, and his musicians respond at a very high level. What's not to like? Heartily recommended' (Fanfare, USA) » More

Ascension Oratorio, BWV11
composer
1735
author of text

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