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Susanne Rydén. Photo by Elin Ericsson/Sveriges Radio.

About a decade ago, I first heard the soprano aria from Cantata 115 sung live in a concert. It took my breath away. The next day, I started looking for recordings of the aria, and decided that my favorite was the one by Susanne Rydén with Bach Collegium Japan, with Liliko Maeda on transverse flute, and Hidemi Suzuki on violoncello piccolo. I purchased only that movement on iTunes and played it many times. However, I never listened to the rest of the cantata …

It took me until this past week to realize that the entire cantata is beautiful, also contains a fabulous alto aria, and …. that this year, Herreweghe released a recording of it, with Dorothee Mields singing the soprano aria and Damien Guillon singing the alto aria. For those of you who know how much I love Dorothee Mields (read more about that here) you will understand I now had a problem: Susanne Rydén or Dorothee Mields? I feel that within the framework of the rest of the movements of Herreweghe’s recording, Mields’ interpretation of the soprano aria fits perfectly, is very moving, and extremely well done. But as a stand-alone aria, I still love Susanne Rydén’s the best, because of the quality of her voice on that recording, and because her ability to blend so perfectly with the flute.

For the entire cantata, I recommend Herreweghe’s 2017 recording. Listen to it on YouTube via a playlist I created from the tracks provided by the record company. Please consider supporting the artists by purchasing the entire album here on Amazon.

Find the German texts with English translations here and the score here.

Herreweghe is the best at  giving the music direction, always focusing on the phrasing. In addition to all of that, there is a wonderful expansiveness, freedom in the sound and the musical lines present in almost all of the music. Also, Peter Kooy’s singing in the bass recitative/arioso is much more lively and adventurous than on the Bach Collegium Japan recording, and then there’s of course counter-tenor Damien Guillon. I was smiling the whole time when I first listened to his aria. How he can move from a low, full note to a clear, spot-on high note is just so good I will forgive him accenting the unaccented part of the word “schläfrige” a bit too much in the beginning of the aria.

If you would like to hear more beautiful music for this Sunday, or are wishing for a more upbeat soprano aria, there is a terrific rendition of the soprano aria from cantata 89 Bach wrote for this same Sunday in 1723 here on Youtube, sung by the incomparable Nuria Rial with the J.S. Bach Foundation.

Wieneke Gorter, November 11, 2017