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Bach: Bass Cantatas (David Greco & Van Diemen’s Band)
The music of Johann Sebastian Bach is pure perfection: a vast yet intricate tapestry of heavenly beauty and human emotion. Music was for Bach the means through which mortals could directly experience the divine, and his cantatas reveal his extraordinary gift for communicating directly with his listeners, even across three centuries. As dramatic and passionate as any opera, each cantata carries us deep into the heart of its story.
This CD presents Bach’s two sacred cantatas for solo bass, performed by acclaimed Australian baritone David Greco and the exciting Tasmanian Baroque ensemble Van Diemen’s Band. Both cantatas offer us a vision of comfort and hope, beautifully conveyed by Greco’s rich, warm tones: Ich habe genug (It is enough), BWV82, is an outpouring of uttermost relief and joy: long, agonising years of waiting are forgotten as the old man Simeon realises that the baby he is cradling in his arms is the Christ child who brings new hope for the world. Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen (Gladly will I bear the cross), BWV56, presents the human journey as a sea voyage, tossed on raging waters before coming safe home to port in heaven.
The album also presents a selection of bass arias and instrumental movements taken from cantatas across Bach’s long career, from the carefree joy of the opening sinfonia to his cantata Der Herr denket an uns (BWV196) – written for a wedding, perhaps even for Bach’s own wedding in 1707 – to the profound tranquility of Betrachte, meine Seel (Contemplate, O my soul) from the St John Passion, as revised by Bach in 1749, just one year before his death.
Warmth, honesty, truth, compassion and transcendent beauty: this recording by the cream of Australia’s early music specialists will make you fall in love with Bach all over again.
About the Artists
Internationally regarded for his interpretations of Schubert lieder and works of J.S. Bach, David Grecohas sung on some of the finest stages across Europe, and has appeared as a principal in the world’s most exciting opera festivals including the Aix-en-Provence Festival and Glyndebourne Festival Opera.
In 2014, he became the first Australian appointed to a position with the Sistine Chapel Choir in the Vatican, Rome.
David regularly appears as a soloist with Australia’s finest ensembles and orchestras, such as the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra and most recently with the Sydney Symphony in their Helpmann Award-winning concerts of Bach’s cantata for bass, Ich habe genug. In 2017, he was a principal artist with Opera Australia, appearing in The Eighth Wonder and The Love of Three Oranges, and his appearance as Seneca in Pinchgut Opera’s production of The Coronation of Poppea received critical acclaim.
David has an impressive catalogue of solo recordings spread across a variety of labels, including Poems of Love & War, featuring arias by New Zealand composer Jack Body on the Naxos label. In 2019, David made his first recital album, presenting works by J.S. Bach, with the Netherlands-based Luthers Bach Ensemble on the European label Brilliant Classics.
David is an active researcher into the historical performance practice of 19th-century voice and recently received his doctorate from the University of Melbourne. His PhD has led to the first Australian recording project exploring the historically informed performance of Schubert’s song cycles Winterreise and Die schöne Müllerin on the ABC Classic label, the latter receiving an ARIA nomination for Best Classical Album in 2020
Based in the wild and unspoiled island state of Tasmania at the southernmost tip of Australia, ‘Australia’s Baroque supergroup’ Van Diemen’s Band is made up of some of the country’s most highly respected early music specialists, who between them have worked with leading ensembles such as Les Arts Florissants, Les Talens Lyriques, Ensemble Pygmalion, Il Pomo d’Oro, Orchestre des Champs-.lys.es, The English Concert, Academy of Ancient Music, Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, Le Parlement de Musique and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra.
Founded in 2016 by violinist Julia Fredersdorff, Van Diemen’s Band varies in size from an intimate chamber group to a larger mid-18th-century orchestra, working with regular guest directors such as French Baroque specialist Martin Gester, exploring the creativity and freedom of expression in music of the baroque while deferring to historical sources on style and instrumentation.
Van Diemen’s Band’s debut CD for ABC Classic, Cello Napoletano, featuring soloist Catherine Jones in the cello concertos of Nicola Fiorenza, was released internationally in 2018 to critical acclaim. Since then, the group has appeared in concerts and festivals in its home state and around mainland Australia, establishing itself as one of the most distinguished new groups in the arts scene ‘Down Under’.
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH 1685–1750
1 Aria: Ach! ich sehe (Ah! I see)
from Cantata BWV162 Ach! ich sehe, itzt, da ich zur Hochzeit gehe (Ah! Now, on my
way to the wedding banquet, I see)
Matthew Manchester flatt trumpet
2 Aria: Auf Gott steht meine Zuversicht (My trust is founded on God)
from Cantata BWV138 Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz (My heart, why are you troubled?)
3 Sinfonia° from Cantata BWV21 Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis (I was in great distress)
4 Arioso: Betrachte, meine Seel (Contemplate, O my soul) from St John Passion, BWV245
Donald Nicolson harpsichord
Ich habe genug (It is enough), BWV82
5 I. Aria: Ich habe genug (It is enough)°
6 II. Recitative: Ich habe genug (It is enough)
7 III. Aria: Schlummert ein, ihr matten Augen (Sleep, dull eyes)
8 IV. Recitative: Mein Gott! wenn kömmt das schöne: Nun!
(O God, when shall I hear that beautiful word ‘Now!’)
9 V. Aria: Ich freue mich auf meinen Tod (I look forward to my death)°
10 Sinfonia from Cantata BWV196 Der Herr denket an uns (The Lord is mindful of us)
11 Aria: Es ist vollbracht (It is done)°
12 Chorale: Jesu, deine Passion ist mir lauter Freude (Jesus, your suffering
is for me pure joy)
from Cantata BWV159 Sehet, wir geh’n hinauf gen Jerusalem (See, we are going
up to Jerusalem)
Anna Fraser soprano, Stephanie Dillon alto, Eric Peterson tenor
13 Sinfonia II° from Cantata BWV35 Geist und Seele wird verwirret (Spirit and soul
are thrown into confusion)
Donald Nicolson organ
Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen (Gladly will I bear the cross), BWV56
14 I. Aria: Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen (Gladly will I bear the cross)°
15 II. Recitative: Mein Wandel auf der Welt (My wanderings over the earth)
16 III. Aria: Endlich, endlich wird mein Joch (One day at last I shall be set free from my yoke)°
17 IV. Recitative: Ich stehe fertig und bereit (I stand ready and prepared)
18. Chorale: Komm, o Tod, du Schlafes Bruder (Come, O Death, Sleep’s brother)
Anna Fraser soprano, Stephanie Dillon alto, Eric Peterson tenor
Van Diemen’s Band
Julia Fredersdorffartistic director