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This CD presents a well-conceived programme of five sacred German cantatas by composers Jacobi, Heinichen, Kuhnau, Thaur and J.S. Bach. None is particularly familiar and even the final example by Bach, probably the only one that might be known, is a reconstruction of the Weimar version of Alles was von Gott geboren (BWV80a). But what undiscovered riches Christoph Hesse and L’arpa festante reveal to us on this CD. Listening to it straight through makes one realise again how central the cantata was to the Lutheran liturgy, and how creatively composers responded to what might have seemed something of a chore: none of these examples sounds routine, none is without interest. L’arpa festante employs small forces throughout – single strings and never more than two to a vocal line in the choruses. All is delivered with a tremendous sense of style, even panache when needed, and their scholarship is worn lightly.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica

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