MAGDALENA KOZENA Lamento

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MAGDALENA KOZENA
Lamento

Arias, Cantatas and Scenes by
the Bach Family
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Christoph Bach
Francesco Bartolomeo Conti
Musica Antiqua Köln
Reinhard Goebel
Int. Release 03 Jan. 2005
1 CD / Download
0289 474 1942 6 CD DDD AH
ARCHIV Produktion
"Magdalena Kozená has the looks to turn heads and a voice that has already melted some notably stony hearts . . . she will be one of the class vocal acts of the early 21st century."The Times (London), 2004


Liste de titres

Johann Christoph Bach (1642 - 1703)
Francesco Bartolomeo Conti (1682 - 1732)
Languet anima mea

Score edited by Yoshitake Kobayashi

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750)
Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust Cantata, BWV 170

Cantata "Bekennen will ich seinen Namen" BWV 200

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714 - 1788)
Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach (1732 - 1795)
Die Amerikanerin

Magdalena Kozená, Musica Antiqua Köln

Durée totale de lecture 55:14

Gramophone's artist of the year, Kozená and Reinhard Goebel's Musica Antiqua Köln explore the lachrymose world of German baroque music, which is extraordinarily vivid in its expression of grief . . . a remarkable performance . . .

The fascinating repertory further expands the team's researches into the Bach family catalogue . . . Kozená brings to this material commitment, powerful feeling, and great flexibility: hers is truly a voice of many colours. Consume this CD whole.

As usual, Kozená offers clean tone, fine flexibility, crisp textual delivery and stylistic intelligence. Even in the tricky central aria of BWV 170 (at nearly 18 minutes, the disc's 'centrepiece'), with the vocal line pitted against an obbligato part for organ, she confronts the many difficulties head-on . . . I hasten to add that when Kozená's timbre matches her music, the results are memorable. One need only hear the bracing crystalline, indubitably soprano tone she brings to the opening of C.P.E. Bach's "Selma" to realize instantly that this is the 'real' Kozená. Another similarly enchanting discovery ż and one that sits ideally in her voice . . . ż is J.C.F. Bach's scena "Die Amerikanerin", a veritable Baroque melodrama in which the singer's operatic experience works to her advantage . . . World-wide there is no ensemble more impressive for this type of programme than Goebel's Musica Antiqua Köln; listeners should be grateful to experience original-instrument playing that so beautifully combines the ultimate in technical ease and stylistic authority with exceptionally full-bodied tone. Archiv provides full translations and superbly vivid recorded sound.

Kozená's declamatory performance is thrilling . . .

Kozená's voice, smooth and assured, is a delight in itself.

Kozená lavishes her firm lyrical mezzo-soprano and keen musicianship on a varied collection . . . Kozená fashions a seamless flow of beautifully modulated tone in the long-lined arias, but she also creates some vocal fireworks in the dazzling allegros . . . Archiv's outstanding digital recording captures the voice and instruments with remarkable clarity.

. . . overall the excellent singing of Kozená tips the balance in favor of the disc. The Conti follow the familiar format of alternating recitative and arias, the whole completed with a briliant Alleluia . . . The performance gets off to a fine start, with Kozená's rapt singing of the opening accompanied recitative immediately drawing in the listener. But the first aria finds Goebel up to his old tricks, with chords sliced through with a brusqueness that serves to undermine any Italiante lyricism the singer tries to instill. Bach would doubtless have admired not only the restraint with which Conti handles the rapturous text of the second aria, but also its lovely obligato violin solo, most winningly played by Stephan Schardt. Kozaná's singing of it is gorgeous . . . the highlight of the disc is the wonderful performance of the scena by Bach's second youngest son, Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach . . . The music is through composed and surges with a vivid, passionate intensity that at times brings reminders of Gluck. Kozená responds to the music with glorious freedom and an ardent urgency that culminates in a sensual, barely whispered climax. Goebel is on his best behavior here, too, and the disc is worth hearing for this remarkable word, and its equally remarkable performance.

I would be very hard pressed to find another single recording of this high quality that so clearly demonstrates the musicality of the Bach family.

Müßig zu sagen, dass Magdalena Kozená mit ihrem ebenmäßigen, satten Mezzo eine geradezu ideale Stimme für diese Werke hat . . . da heißt Barock: Lebensfreude.

Sie verfügt über das derzeit schönste, zarteste, beseelteste Pianissimo . . . Die Mezzosopranistin kommt völlig ohne die sattsam bekannte, dramatische Exaltiertheit vieler Kolleginnen, und sie ist auch keine Zwitschermaschine: Koloratur-Shows sind nicht ihr Ding. Stattdessen verzaubern weiches Timbre, diskretes Vibrato, hauchzarte Melancholie. Reinhard Goebels glänzende Musica Antiqua Köln assistiert: historisch korrekt auf Originalinstrumenten, stets emotional intensiv. DG-Tonmeister Hans-Ulrich Bastin sorgte dafür, dass sich Kozená's Stimme bei Vokalmusik von Bach und dessen Söhnen, Verwandten, Zeitgenossen nahezu perfekt in den Ensembleklang integriert ż sie zelebriert die schwebenden Klänge zwischen Liebe und Tod in eigenwilliger, sangseliger Süße. Viel innere Wahrheit ż Nahrung für die Seele.

Eine ausgesuchte Natürlichkeit und ein lebendiges, nie überzogenes Vibrato sind nur die besonderen Vorzüge von Magdalena Kozenás Mezzosopran. Die Weisheit, dass es Soprane wie Sand am Meer geben kann, echte Altistinnen jedoch nur in verschwindend geringer Zahl, unterläuft sie nonchalant. Wo ihre Registerübergänge sich versteckt halten, bleibt ein großes Rätsel. Ihre Tiefe ist befreit von der Schwere herber Altstimmen, ihre Höhe so mühelos leicht wie die eines Koloratursoprans, und Kozená vereint dabei in rarer Harmonie Kunstfertigkeit mit Freimut und Leben. Bei einem Repertoire, das ein in den Vordergrund drängendes Timbre nicht gebrauchen kann, das auf Gelenkigkeit und Wortverständlichkeit größten Wert legt, kommt diese Stimme hervorragend zur Geltung . . . Kaum weiß man, was hübscher ist und die Lust am Leben noch besser verdeutlicht: das fabelhaft gespielte Flötensolo, der quecksilbrige Gesangssatz, Kozenás Stimmschönheit oder aber die kraftvoll im Hintergrund schraffierenden Streicher.

Exceptional naturalness and a living, never exaggerated vibrato are only the most pronounced assets of Magdalena Kožená's mezzo-soprano. She nonchalantly circumvents the received wisdom that sopranos are two a penny whereas true altos are fast disappearing. It remains a real mystery where her changes of register are concealed. Her low notes are free of the heaviness of dour altos, while her top notes are as effortlessly light as those of a coloratura soprano, and Kožená combines skill with openness and life in a way that is unusually harmonious. It is a voice that really comes into its own in a repertory that has no use of a penetrating timbre and that lays great emphasis on agility and verbal intelligibility . . . It is hard to know which is the more attractive and which offers a clearer illustration of a very real love of life: the fabulously well-played flute solo, the mercurial vocal writing, the beauty of Kožená's voice or the strings providing a powerfully shaded accompaniment in the background.


Kozená hat sich seit ihrer letzten Bach-Platte vor sechs Jahren mit der Musica Florea unter Marek Stryncl weiterentwickelt. Sie geizt weder mit Farben noch mit Flexibilität, noch mit den verführerischen Brusttönen ihres immer frischen . . . Mezzos.

Das ist einfach schön, wie die außerordentliche Musica Antiqua Köln unter Reinhard Goebel mit dem dunklen Mezzo von Magdalena Kożená nicht nur musiziert, sondern kommuniziert. Stimme und instrumentale Linie sind in engster Verbindung aufeinander abgestimmt. Klar wie selten wird, was die Musik des Barock mit Affekt meinte. Es ist die direkte Konfrontation von Sinn und Klang, ihr inneres Verweben, das nur durch die erfüllte Plastik jeder beteiligten melodischen Linie ergreifend in Erscheinung tritt.

Mit den innovativen weltlichen Kantaten »Selma« und »Die Amerikanerin« blüht Magdalena Kozená zu großer, diesseitiger Form auf. Beispielhaft ist der Schluss in Johann Christoph Friedrich Bachs Hommage an eine »schöne Wilde«. Hier, beim sprachlich und musikalisch kühnen Gesang an den süßen Liebestod (»Wie Ambraduft will ich dich, Tod, aus ihren Adern trinken, auf ihren Busen sinken, und mit ihr sterben«) findet die Sängerin zu ihrem ureigenen, unmittelbar berührenden Ausdruck.

Ebenso einfühlsam wie virtuos begleitet von Reinhard Goebel und Musica Antiqua Köln entfaltet Magdalena Kozena in fast schon manieriert expressivem Ausdruck das frühbarocke Lamento . . . Dank der vokal wie instrumental glänzenden Interpretation ist der Zuhörer von einem Lamento weit entfernt, diese Einspielung sorgt für vergnügte Ruh.

Magdalena Kozená und die Musica Antiqua Köln begeistern und bewegen mit Klagegesängen aus der Bach-Familie und ihrem Umfeld . . . diese Einspielung . . . erfüllt jeden empfindsamen Zuhörer mit einer tiefen, reinigenden Demut -- vor Gott, seinen Nebenmenschen und einer so naturschönen Stimme wie jener der Kozená . . . Verschiedentlich um Streicher, Flöten und/oder Oboen verstärkt, agiert der harte Kern der MAK gewohnt profilbetont und ermisst die Befindlichkeiten drangsalierter Seelen durch genauestes Verständnis musikalischer Rhetorik.

. . . sobald diese Aufnahme erklingt, befindet man sich im freien Fall. Man taucht ein in eine völlig neue Dimension klanglicher Ekstase, ein Meer an wohligem, zutiefst ergreifenden künstlerischen Ausdrucks. Ich möchte die herausragende Leistung der Musica Antiqua Köln nicht schmälern -- sie sind so gut wie selten zuvor, eine atemberaubende Leistung! Nein, es ist der Mezzosopran von Magdalena Kozená, der hier alles überstrahlt, den Hörer magnetisch anzieht und fassungsloses Staunen hinterlässt . . . Ja kennt denn diese Sängerin keine Grenzen? Gibt es für sie keine Atemprobleme, keine anstrengenden Höhen, keine technisch alles fordernden Koloraturen, keine Textprobleme? Sie ist so sicher in allem was sie tut. Sie tut es leicht, ohne Anstrengung, ohne Pose. Sie singt als ob es keine andere Existenzform für sie gäbe als zu singen. Gesang, Barockgesang vor allem, scheint das Lebenselixier, das ureigenste Element von Magdalena Kozená zu sein. Da fällt mir nur der Text aus der Schubert-Messe ein: "Staunen nur kann ich und staunend mich freu'n": Ich ziehe meinen Hut vor dieser großartigen Leistung!

Die zu Recht hohen Erwartungen wurden deutlich erfüllt . . . Kożená profilierte sich bereits 1999 mit einer Platte, auf der sie eine Reihe von Arien Johann Sebastian Bachs mühelos und glücklich interpretierte. Hinzu trat nun Reinhard Goebel mit seiner künstlerisch schon so häufig eindrucksvoll hervorgetretenen Musica Antiqua Köln, die sich in letzter Zeit in Aufnahmen und Konzerten den anderen, heute weniger bekannten Vertretern der Bach-Familie zuwandten . . . In figurativer Phantasie und einer Haltung echter Klage zeigt die Musik ihre Stärken . . . Doch kommen in den mehrsätzigen Werken auch andere Seiten des Empfindens und des musikalischen Ausdrucks zum Zuge. Eine Kantate des italienischen Zeitgenossen Johann Sebastian Bachs, Francesco Bartolomeo Conti präsentiert sich außerordentlich temperamentvoll und im abschließenden »Alleluja« mit virtuoser Rasanz. Die ebenfalls nicht fehlenden Arbeiten Johann Sebastian Bachs entfalten eine erstaunlich Anmut . . . Magdalena Kożená findet in diesem feinen und ausgewogenen Programm ausreichende Gelegenheit, ihre wunderbare Stimme in Szene zu setzen: Biegsam, ohne gekünstelte Force, mit warmer Ausstrahlung in der tieferen Lage und bei all dem wundervoll behutsam bringt sie die Musik zum Leuchten. Hinzu treten eine glanzvolle Oberlage und Kożenás Fähigkeit, mit ihrem eindrucksvollen technischen Rüstzeug virtuos und selbstbewusst zu gestalten. Die Schlussnummer in Contis Kantate gerät ihr so zum technisch-raffinierten Bravourstück. Reinhard Goebel führt seine Musica Antiqua zu einer technisch-interpretatorischen Meisterleistung. Mit feinster Artikulation und in perfektem Zusammenklang, der sich kontrolliert und doch gleichzeitig voll präsentiert, beherrschen die Instrumentalisten das ganze gestalterische Repertoire, das kraftvolle dynamische Entwicklungen selbst auf engstem Raum ermöglicht. Alle Nuancen, vom beinahe stehenden Tempo des getragenen, klagenden Ausdrucks bis hin zum druckvollen Presto werden souverän aufgespürt. Ohne übermäßige und damit falsche Gefühligkeit wird in den intensiveren Passagen gestaltet, jedoch immer mit dem Mut zur deutlichen Zeichnung des musikalischen Materials . . . Eine Platte, die allen musikalischen Ansprüchen mehr als gerecht wird und die hohen Erwartungen erfüllt.

Magdalena Kozená, une pure splendeur . . . La rencontre de Reinhard Goebel et de Magdalena Kozená est le contraire de ces mariages de raison qui peuplent le monde discographique. C'est un feu en musique, de ceux qu'impose ŕ la vie la reconnaissance de deux ętres de męme passion, aussi véhéments ŕ s'accorder que prompts ŕ se combattre . . . Magdalena Kozená atteint ici ŕ une profondeur d'interprétation qui laisse admiratif. La voix est incroyable de couleur, de sensualité, de maîtrise. Quant ŕ la musicienne, elle a tout d'une grande.

Magdalena Kožená: pure splendour . . . The encounter between Reinhard Goebel and Magdalena Kožená is the opposite of those marriages which, based on reason, fill the discographical world. The result is a fire in music of a kind that makes us grateful to life for two beings filled with the selfsame passion, two artists as vehement in agreement as they are quick to fight . . . Magdalena Kožená here achieves a depth of interpretation that leaves one open-mouthed with admiration. Her voice is incredible in terms of its colour, sensuality and mastery. She has all that it takes to be a truly great musician.

part translation:
Sie hat alles, was ein wirklich großer Musiker braucht.

Cette premičre rencontre discographique entre Reinhard Goebel et Magdalena Kozená se montre ŕ la hauteur des espérances. Le violoniste et son ensemble se plaisent ŕ dynamiser le discours, ŕ marquer les contrastes et ŕ marier l'intensité. Dans un cadre aussi propice, la mezzo-soprano peut déployer une riche palette de couleurs, de nuances . . . et d'expressions, depuis la pričre jusqu'ŕ l'air d'opéra (Carl Philipp Emanuel, Johann Christoph Friedrich). La célčbre Cantate BWV 170 de Bach constitue le moment le plus intense et le plus singulier de ce programme rare . . . Magdalena Kozená investit chaque mot (récitatif et air) d'une rare justesse dramatique.

Magdalena Kożená, ŕ la voix chaude et fémissante . . . répond idéalement aux exigences de cette lecture qui oscille sans cesse entre pathos et objectivité, entre brűlure chaude de la chair et incandescence froide de l'esprit.

... Kozená demuestra su enorme versatilidad ... La conclusión última del disco es que Kozená deja la impronta de su delicioso timbre en cada obra, haciéndola suya y reinventando, en el caso de Johann Sebastian, un Bach eternamente joven, sin límite de posibles lecturas.

Magdalena Kozená es, sin duda, una de las personalidades artísticas más sobresalientes (y también, dicho sea de paso, más atractivas) que la interpretación historicista nos ha brindado en los últimos ańos. ... El programa es uno de los primeros atractivos. ... La calidad de las interpretaciones, otro de los atractivos de este excelente disco, difícilmente podrá defraudar a los espíritus más exigentes. Si a las consabidas excelencias de Magdalena Kozená se vuelven a unir la experiencia y el buen hacer de Musica Antiqua Köln y Goebel en un repertorio en el que ambos son siempre referencia y un sonido claro y brillante que contribuye a ensalzar el aire germánico y místico de estas obras tendremos uno de los compactos más destacados del nuevo ańo. El binomio Kozená/Musica Antiqua Köln vuelve a deslumbrar.

Las interpretaciones tienen el sentido dramático propio de Goebel, con un bajo destacado, articulación muy marcada y elevada emotividad que atrapa al oyente, a lo que contribuye la gran prestación de Kozená, de doliente expresividad, poseedora de una voz redonda en todos los registros, con graves tímbrados y suficientemente sonoros, que suelen ser su parte más débil, y un timbre atrayente, plenamente integrada en la propuesta de Goebel.

Magdalena Kozená ofrece una interpretación transparente de las partituras, respetuosa con los diferentes estilos y sometida a las inflexiones del texto, mostrando una voz flexible y de cuidada línea. La cantante se adapta al carácter de cada fragmento, recreando las partituras con solvente naturalidad ... El acompańamiento instrumental del conjunto dirigido por Reinhard Goebel -con instrumentos originales- profundiza en la notable carga expresiva de las piezas, ofreciendo un bello y empastado juego de timbres.

Un fascinante recorrido, dentro de las obvias limitaciones de tiempo,
por obras vocales sacras compuestas por cuatro miembros de la familia
Bach: Johann Sebastian, Carl Philipp Emmanuel, Johann Cristoph y
Johann Cristoph Friederich. Un registro de comparaciones, diferencias
y similitudes entre virtuosos compositores y solistas, así como sorpresas
como la transcripción que hiciera el más grande de los Bach de Languet
anima mea, cantata para soprano, dos oboes, cuerdas y bajo continuo
del compositor vienés Francesco Bartolomeo Conti. La interpretación
está a cargo de la sensual mezzo Magdalena Koená, acompańada por
Musica Antiqua Kln.

A fascinating recording, inside the obvious limitations of time, of
sacred vocal works composed by four members of the Bach family:
Johann Sebastian, Carl Philipp Emmanuel, Johann Cristoph and Johann
Christoph Friederich. A comparative document of differences and
similarities between virtuous composers and soloists, as well as
surprises of the transcription of the eldest Bachżs Languet anima mea,
cantata for soprano, two oboes, continuo by the Viennese composer
Francesco Bartolomeo Conti. The interpretation is by the sensual
mezzo Magdalena Kozená, accompanied by Musica Antiqua Koln.
A Happy (and Formidable) Partnership

Magdalena Kožená and Reinhard Goebel


The imposing figure of Johann Sebastian Bach has loomed large for Magdalena Kožená throughout her career. It was her first disc of Bach arias that brought the golden-voiced mezzo to the attention of Deutsche Grammophon's Archiv label as early as 1996. Word then quickly went round that Magdalena was the perfect choice for Bach recordings. "This disc that started my international career also was my introduction to the great Baroque conductors, including the wonderful scholar and musician Reinhard Goebel, with whom I've worked on my new disc, 'Lamento'."
Although the title may suggest wailing and gnashing of teeth, this is a sublime and eclectic mixture of music by J.S. Bach, his relations and contemporaries. "There's a very optimistic feeling to this CD," says Kožená. "Although all these pieces are about how horrible it is on this earth, they are really celebrating how great it will be afterwards. There's a message of hope throughout."
The collection opens with a lamento for alto and string ensemble by Johann Christoph Bach, a cousin of Bach's father. This was a wonderful discovery for Magdalena, full of melting, lyrical phrases and word painting which, as she points out, sounds extraordinarily modern. "It is such universal music that you can hardly tell in which period it was written," she says. "It's quite a melancholy piece, but I feel there's light in it too."
Magdalena Kožená is aware that any solo disc can run the risk of seeming to offer too much of the same thing. "It's so important that the programme should be varied, that you don't get into a rut." There's no chance of that here. The brilliant, joyful Languet by Viennese court composer Francesco Bartolomeo Conti that follows is the polar opposite of the lamento, and Magdalena relished the chance to let rip in this Italianate showpiece for soprano, oboe and strings.
"It is such fun to sing, and easy to listen to. Maybe it's not as profound as the music by J.C. or J.S. Bach, but it's good to have it here because it brings in different colours and light."
Next comes the real meat of the disc, J.S. Bach's exquisite cantata for the sixth Sunday after Trinity, Vergnügte Ruh. For Kožená, the highlight of this masterpiece is the slow movement, "Wie jammern mich doch die verkehrten Herzen", with its twisting, chromatic subject matching the doleful words "How the sinful hearts lament". "The harmonies are incredible - so weird, so modern."
There is something about the simplicity of this music that touches and inspires Kožená - and helps explain what has made her such a renowned Bach interpreter. "When you sing Bach, it should really come from somewhere inside. There can be nothing superficial about it. Bach's music can't stand any of the artificial effects that you can use for other Baroque composers. Of course I love singing Handel - all those vocal gymnastics. Showing off how fast, loud, high or low you can sing, that's fun also. But Bach is about something else, it's about truth coming from inside."
"I like the way my voice has to fit into the ensemble like another instrument. This music is not about a solo singer being accompanied by an orchestra. Of course the voice must project the text, yet it must still sound instrumental and quite simple."
"This is what I like about singing. I try to tell stories. I try to sound as natural as possible. It's something in my character. I want everybody to feel that singing is as easy and as normal as talking, and that they could do it too."
Magdalena found working with Reinhard Goebel a particularly rewarding experience. "He's a true specialist: all his life he's spent playing and researching this music, and so it's always extremely enlightening to hear what he thinks. He has precise ideas about how things should be done, and how the music was performed in its own time."
Goebel has included two more rarities on the disc, pieces by Bach's sons Carl Philipp Emanuel and Johann Christoph Friedrich, whose lament for the love of the Arabian girl Zaide he rather misleadingly named "Die Amerikanerin", to commemorate America's Declaration of Independence. "A young man is desperately waiting for his love, but she never comes. In the end he concludes that only 'sweet death' will get him through. Another light moment!"
This is a disc full of interest and unexpected pleasures - but which piece would Magdalena Kožená pick out for special mention? "I really enjoyed singing all of them. I am so lucky to be able to choose exactly what I'm going to sing. There was always a lot of discussion between Reinhard and me, and if I didn't like something I didn't do it - not because I'm modest, but because I just knew that I wouldn't sing it well. It's been such a privilege to work with someone with as much knowledge as Reinhard, and with such outstanding musicians as Musica Antiqua Köln, who are always so incredibly keen on whatever they're doing."
Amanda Holloway
10/2004

    Lamento

“No hint of strain, no artifice, just simple delight in performing Bach's music - Kozená is simply marvelous," enthused a critic on hearing Magdalena Kozená's début album on the Deutsche Grammophon label, a selection of arias by Johann Sebastian Bach that was released in 1999. The present album is devoted to arias and cantatas by the Bach family as a whole, allowing the singer to take up and explore some of the themes of her successful earlier CD. Together with Reinhard Goebel's Musica Antiqua Köln, whose recent concerts and recordings have been devoted to rarely heard works by the less famous members of the Bach family, she has selected a number of jewels from the archival legacy of a family as famous as it is unique.

Tradition was writ large in the Bach family: quite apart from Johann Sebastian's own genealogical research, its members also took an active interest in collecting works by their forebears. And although their contemporaries invariably sought novelty in art, the Thomaskantor and his sons even arranged for these pieces to be performed in public - not as testimony to their ancestral pride but as timelessly valid examples of flawless, inspired music. The Eisenach organist and court harpsichordist Johann Christoph Bach was particularly highly respected, with even Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach - himself a leading exponent of the emotionally charged style typical of the age of sensibility - praising him as a “great and expressive" composer. What he meant by this is clear from the lament Ach, dass ich Wasser g'nug hätte: with its expressive use of sigh-like motifs and tritones, to say nothing of its eloquent rests and insistent motivic repetitions, this lament on the part of a sinner conscious of his guilt goes far beyond the standard musical and rhetorical formulas of the age.

It seems strange that in 1716 Johann Sebastian Bach transcribed the solo cantata Languet anima mea by the Viennese court composer Francesco Bartolomeo Conti and performed it only a short time later in Cöthen. Our puzzlement is due not least to the text, which speaks of the believer's impassioned love of Christ and veneration of the crucified Saviour. But the peculiar type of Catholic mysticism that celebrated Christ and His love-death on the Cross and, by extension, the heavenly marriage of the soul and its Redeemer had a profound influence on Protestantism, too, in the 17th century, leaving its mark on the texts of manuals of devotion, hymns and Passion oratorios. It seems likely, then, that Conti's cantata was performed in the Cöthen castle chapel during Holy Week. Operatic in character, it expresses a delight in the Christian faith that reflects the atmosphere at Prince Leopold's court: even after he moved to Leipzig in 1723, Bach remained loyal to his erstwhile employer, whose court was open to the most manifold musical influences.

By the summer and autumn of 1726 Bach evidently had at his disposal a very good alto singer, for it was then that he wrote his three cantatas for alto solo, woodwind, strings and obbligato organ BWV 35, 169 and 170. All three are among the most expressive and beautiful works of their kind. In them Bach struck the courtly and elegant note of his secular vocal works, and in the dancelike and sensually heartfelt melodic writing achieved a delightful synthesis between the galant style and one more suited to the church. Rarely did he come as close musically to Handel and Telemann as he did in the cantata Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust. Just as the pastoral charm of its opening section recalls those of Handel's operatic arias that are cast in the form of a siciliana, so the ritornello of the third aria, “Mir ekelt mehr zu leben", could easily have been written by Telemann - echoes of the Polish dance music beloved of Bach's old friend are unmistakable. Between them comes the aria “Wie jammern mich doch die verkehrten Herzen", a piece which, with its unusual instrumentation, irregular phrases and sharp dissonances, was calculated to appeal to connoisseurs of musical symbolism: the accompaniment consists of a trio whose two upper voices are played on the organ, while the lower line is taken by the violins and violas playing in unison. There is no basso continuo. The text deals with all that is opposed to God, so that the absence of the continuo, or foundation, suggests what is wrong about a life dominated by “vengeance and hatred". If the textual message and compositional method coincide here, the disjunction between the text's ostensible world-weariness and Bach's life-affirming setting of the other two arias has often lead to a misunderstanding, but the solution to the problem lies in the cantata's function as a piece for Holy Communion. It tells of the soul's quietude in the here and now, a state intensified when it receives the Sacrament. This presupposes that the soul has first turned away from a life of sin, so that the beginning of the final aria must mean “It sickens me to live like this any longer". BWV 170 does not advocate the renunciation of the world but praises the Christian communion and encourages us to lead a life that is pleasing to God.

The aria Bekennen will ich seinen Namen was not rediscovered until 1924. It was written around 1740 and must have been part of a lost cantata for the Purification of the Virgin Mary, which is celebrated on 2 February and also known as Candlemas. Its words refer to the song of praise sung by Simeon on seeing the Infant Jesus and recognizing in him the Saviour.
Between 1768 and his death 20 years later, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was responsible for the music in Hamburg's main churches, but he was chiefly famous as a composer of keyboard music and songs. A setting of words by Johann Heinrich Voss, Selma dates from 1776 and was originally published with a keyboard accompaniment alone. It was the first of his songs to adopt through-composed form as a way of doing justice to the changing moods and emotions of its two strophes. When revising the work for voice and strings and turning it into a “cantata", Bach sought to extend its expressive range yet further. Many late 18th-century composers aimed to combine instruments and vocal lines to dramatic effect. One result of this development was the melodrama, a genre to which Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach came close with his “lyric painting" Die Amerikanerin. It was written in 1773, the period of greatest happiness in the career of the “Bückeburg Bach", when he was in regular contact with Johann Gottfried Herder and other poets and discussed with them the new “painterly" approach to word setting. Die Amerikanerin no doubt owed at least part of its great popularity to its words by Heinrich Wilhelm von Gerstenberg, which at first sight are profoundly tragic and which are taken from a collection of poems published in 1759 under the title Tändeleyen, praising “love's quiet raptures". Well versed in the art of decoding erotic allusions, audiences interpreted the savage's visions of death not in the literal sense of the word but as an expression of longing for sexual fulfilment.

Dorothea Schröder
(Translation: Stewart Spencer)

    Magdalena Kožená - Chronology

19731973 Born in the Czech city of Brno
1987-91 Vocal and piano studies at Brno Conservatory with Neva Megová and Jirí Peša
1991-95 Student of Eva Blahová at Bratislava Drama College
1995 Prizewinner at the Sixth International Mozart Competition in Salzburg
Extensive tours of Japan and the USA
1996 Dorabella (Cosě fan tutte/Mozart) at the Janácek Theatre in Brno
1996/97 Annio (La clemenza di Tito/Mozart) at the Vienna Volksoper
CD: J. S. Bach: Arias/Musica Florea, Štryncl (DG/Archiv 457 367-2;
Harmonie Award in the Czech Republic: “CD of the Year")
1997 Isabella (L'italiana in Algeri/Rossini) at the Janácek Theatre in Brno
1998 Hermia (A Midsummer Night's Dream/Britten) at the Vienna Volksoper
Paride (Paride ed Elena/Gluck) at the Drottningholm Festival
Idamante (Idomeneo/Mozart) for Flanders Opera under Marc Minkowski
Beginning of collaboration with pianist Graham Johnson
1999/2000 Orphée (Orphée et Eurydice/Gluck) at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris,
under Sir John Eliot Gardiner, directed by Robert Wilson
Nerone (L'incoronazione di Poppea/Monteverdi) at the Vienna and
Aix-en-Provence Festivals under Marc Minkowski
CDs: J. S. Bach: Whitsun Cantatas/English Baroque Soloists, Gardiner (DG/Archiv 463 584-2)
Handel: Dixit Dominus; Salve Regina etc./Les Musiciens du Louvre, Minkowski (DG/Archiv 459 627-2)
Rameau: Dardanus/Les Musiciens du Louvre, Minkowski (DG/Archiv
463 476-2; Diapason d'or 2000, Record Academy Prize, Tokyo, 2001)
Love Songs: Songs by Dvorák, Janácek, Martinů/Graham Johnson
(DG 463 472-2; Gramophone Award 2001)
2000/01 Sesto (La clemenza di Tito/Mozart) at the Edinburgh Festival
Mélisande (Pelléas et Mélisande/Debussy) at the Leipzig Opera
Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro/Mozart) at the Aix-en-Provence and
Baden-Baden Festivals under Marc Minkowski
Echo Klassik prizewinner 2000: “Best New Artist"
CDs: J. S. Bach: Cantatas/English Baroque Soloists, Gardiner
(DG/Archiv 463 591-2)
Handel: Italian Cantatas/Les Musiciens du Louvre, Minkowski
(DG/Archiv 469 065-2)
2001/02 Sesto (Giulio Cesare/Handel) at the Netherlands Opera under Marc Minkowski
Soloist (St. Matthew Passion/Bach) with Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Players in London, Lisbon, Munich, Aldeburgh
Performances with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra under Marc Minkowski
in Ferrara and at the Opéra-Comique, Paris, as Mélisande (Pelléas et Mélisande/Debussy)
At the Salzburg Festival Zerlina (Don Giovanni/Mozart) under Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Mozart's C minor Mass and Thamos music, and the Fauré Requiem under Minkowski
European recital tour with pianist Malcolm Martineau in London, Paris, Antwerp, Prague, Steensgard (Denmark), at the Schubertiade Schwarzenberg (Austria), in Hamburg, and Helsinki
CDs: Arias by Gluck, Mozart, Myslivecek/Prague Philharmonia, Swierczewski (DG 471 334-2; Echo Klassik Award 2002), Messiah/Les Musiciens du Louvre, Minkowski (DG/Archiv 471 341-2)
2002/03 Les Musiciens du Louvre 20th Anniversary Concert with Minkowski at the Châtelet in Paris
Wigmore Hall recital and tour of Japan with Malcolm Martineau
Idamante in Peter Sellars's production of Idomeneo at Glyndebourne, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle
Other summer festival appearances include Mostly Mozart in London at the Barbican, Verbier, Utrecht Festival of Early Music (Handel recital with countertenor Thierry Grégoire), Schubertiade Schwarzenberg (recital with Malcolm Martineau)
CDs: J. S. Bach: St. Matthew Passion/Gabrieli Players, McCreesh
(DG/Archiv 474 200-2)
Handel: Giulio Cesare/Les Musiciens du Louvre, Minkowski
(DG/Archiv 474 210-2)
French Opera Arias/Les Musiciens du Louvre, Minkowski (DG 474 214-2)
2003/04 Performances of Idomeneo with Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker in Berlin, Lucerne, and at the Salzburg Easter Festival
London, Paris, and Lisbon concert performances, and Archiv recording of Gluck's Paride ed Elena with McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort & Players
Cherubino at the Met and Bavarian State Opera, Dorabella at the Salzburg Easter Festival
Extensive recital tours of the USA and Europe including New York's Carnegie Hall, London's Wigmore Hall, the Vienna Konzerthaus, and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw
CDs: A recital disc with Malcolm Martineau of song cycles by Britten, Ravel, Respighi, Schulhoff, and Shostakovich (DG 471 581-2); also recorded in 2003 for release later: Bachiana III - arias, cantatas, and scenes by the Bach Family, with Reinhard Goebel and Musica Antiqua Köln
2004/05 The new season begins with her Dorabella at San Francisco Opera and Kátya Kabanová at the Met