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Classical - Released January 1, 2008 | Archiv Produktion
Classical - Released November 22, 2004 | Archiv Produktion
Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kozená has earned wide praise among critics for her performances of J.S. Bach and Handel in addition to the recordings she has made of music of a somewhat later vintage. Conventional wisdom would dictate that Archiv Produktion's Lamento, which reunites Kozená with J.S. Bach in two cantatas and presents her in other works by Johann Christoph Bach, Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and Francesco Bartolomeo Conti, should be as delightful as her previous outings. Additionally, Kozená is partnered in this highly desirable vocal literature by the extraordinary Reinhard Goebel and his Musica Antiqua Köln, and under any normal circumstances this should provide the icing on the cake. That it does not deliver on either score is quite surprising, but Lamento is a very laid-back endeavor all around. A little too laid-back, unfortunately, as Lamento is a rather lackluster effort and dangles dangerously close to mediocrity. In Lamento, Kozená under sings, sometimes falling a little flat, demonstrating a lazy approach to ornaments and slipping below the level of the accompaniment in low passages. The quality of the voice here is not particularly attractive, being a mix of fluffiness and fogginess, seemingly trundling down a bumpy rural route of inconsistent tone production and amplitude in relation to the band. You would hardly know that this is Reinhard Goebel and Musica Antiqua Köln backing Kozená up here, as the accompaniment is mostly lackadaisical and slack, although it does pick up some in J.S. Bach's Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust. No one expects all Baroque vocal literature to consist of the unending fusillade of notes one would associate with Vivaldi, but the tempi employed are unexciting and middle-of-the-road, rather than ranging from an energetic and zippy allegro to a sumptuous and sweet adagio. Given Lamento's exalted pedigree and the praise Kozená has earned from respected commentators, one would expect more. But alas, there is little to distinguish Lamento from other middle-weight albums of Baroque solo cantatas such as those issued by labels as Tactus and Dynamic, except for the sound quality, which is gorgeous. However, some fanciers of "extreme literature" may not be able to resist Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach's 1776 cantata Die Amerikanerin, which is "The American Woman" in English. Rest assured that it does not sound anything like the Guess Who.
Classical - Released January 1, 1999 | Archiv Produktion