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The imagery of St. Michael’s confrontation with the dragon (Satan) in the Book of Revelation made particular appeal to Bach who wrote three colourful cantatas for the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels. Man singet mit Freuden (BWV 149) is the latest of them and perhaps the least confrontational. Bach Collegium Japan give a splendid account of its generously scored opening chorus. While the centrally placed soprano aria, beautifully, though rather coolly, sung by Hana Blažíková provides a focal point, it is the alto-tenor duet with a splendidly serpentine bassoon obbligato that steals the show. Two orchestral sinfonias occupy important places in two other of the cantatas. That which begins BWV 174 is a reworking with horns and oboes of the opening movement of Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, while BWV 49 is prefaced with a sinfonia more familiar in its version for harpsichord and strings (BWV 1053). Solo singing elsewhere is mainly satisfying though the countertenor does not always sound comfortable in the uppermost range of his tessitura.

Nicholas Anderson Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2012 - ©Rhinegold Publishing