Iestyn Davies is surely the finest countertenor around today, and proves the depths of his musicianship with this Bach album, mainly devoted to cantatas Bach would originally have written for male altos, i.e., teenage boys whose voices hadn’t fully broken. And they must have been accomplished young men to cope with some of the sophisticated solo writing here. Needless to say Iestyn Davies presents all this stuff better than I can imagine any other countertenor doing, and it’s extremely well accompanied by the London based, original instruments orchestra, Arcangelo, under its founder/conductor Jonathan Cohen.
The real masterpiece here is of course Ich habe genug, originally written for a bass soloist. And despite all Iestyn Davies’ skills, I remain convinced that a bass voice suits this music best.
However, the ever pragmatic Bach did arrange the piece for both soprano, and for alto, so Davies can’t be blamed for taking it up.
This quite well filled disc—65 minutes—is completed by two orchestral sinfonias, both rearrangements by Bach of music originally to be found in his Brandenburg Concertos.