There are many, many good things about Andrew Parrott and the Taverner Consort and Players' Bach performances – their luminous colors, complete clarity, utter lucidity, and structural integrity – that there is an uneasy feeling in criticizing them for their occasional flaws. When Parrott's Bach is good, it is as great as any that has been recorded in the past 20 years. It's as great as Leonhardt's, Koopman's, or Herreweghe's, and far better than Gardiner's, Harnoncourt's, or Rilling's. And Parrott's Bach is so great in the great pieces – so great in the overwhelming dramatic intensity of the close of his Saint John Passion and so great in the mystery, agony, and ecstasy of the central choral triptych in his Mass in B minor – that his performances seem very, very great indeed.(James Leonard)
After a Mozart release with the Quatuor Voce, Juliette Hurel has devised a programme focusing on Bach, featuring two staples of the flute repertoire: the Suite for Orchestra No.2 with its famous Badinerie and the Partita for Solo Flute, his only work for the unaccompanied instrument. To complement this, she has chosen to assemble the most celebrated arias with a prominent part for solo flute, very rarely played outside the works for which they were written: the Easter Oratorio (‘Seele, deine Spezereien’), the St Matthew Passion (‘Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben’), the Coffee Cantata (‘Ei wie schmeckt’) and the Cantata ‘Ich habe genug’. For this recording, she plays a modern wooden flute and was keen to work with a Baroque ensemble performing on period instruments and a soprano well versed in this music, Maïlys de Villoutreys, a rising vocal star of French scene. The magnificent Trio Sonata BWV 1038 completes the programme in the spirit of chamber music.
Compared with J.S. Bach’s production of church music his secular vocal works occupy a modest place in his output: today we know of the existence of some fifty secular cantatas, but only about half of these have survived in performable condition. They were occasional pieces, tailored especially to the situation that engendered them. Unlike the church cantatas they could therefore not be performed again in unaltered form, and were thus of little practical interest for Bach’s heirs. The earliest surviving secular cantata is the ‘Hunt’ Cantata, composed in 1713 in Weimar for the birthday of Duke Christian of Sachsen-Weißenfels.