Not one, but three Bach Magnificats from Arcangelo

Bach: Magnificats

Joélle Harvey (soprano), Olivia Vermeulen (mezzo), Thomas Walker (tenor), Iestyn Davies (countertenor), Thomas Bauer (baritone), Arcangelo, Jonathan Cohen (conductor).

This imaginatively programmed disc, from Arcangelo, gives us three Magnificats from the Bach family written over a period of about forty years and gives the listener a clear aural picture of how music was changed after the arrival of a certain Mozart on the music scene.

Obviously the main work on this disk is J S Bach’s Magnificat in D major, BWV243 which opens proceedings. Both the chorus and the orchestra bring a sense of freshness to this frequently played work. There is a detailed bass line and the organ has been well captured by the sound engineers. Hearing Iestyn Davies float above the flutes is worth the price of the CD alone. Not a performance to knock my personal favourite, Philippe Pierlot and the Ricercar Consort, off its top spot but hugely enjoyable nonetheless.

Next we have J C Bach’s Magnificat in C major, E 22 – his third Magnificat! This is a very short piece in which the texts have been telescoped. An enjoyable little piece, in which we can enjoy Olivia Vermeulen’s rich mezzo. This work is almost Mozart-like in its bustle and patter that is reminiscent of Italian opera.

C P E Bach’s Magnificat in D major, Wq. 215 (H772) is a much more extended piece that both looks back to JS Bach and looks forward with its nervy arias that give an almost theatrical quality to the piece. Pleasingly Cohen has opted to include the Et Misericordia Eius from the original 1749 version.

This is a hugely enjoyable album that illustrates beautifully the transition from high Baroque through to a more Italianate style and it deserves a place on the shelves of any serious collector – and many others besides! Highly recommended.

iClassical rating: 

Purchase CD or (hi-resolution) download from Hyperion Records.