This British period band Florilegium offers a terrific disc comprising the ever-popular Second Suite, a famous organ-concerto sinfonia, and two of the most affecting and poignant cantatas for solo soprano ever penned by the great Bach. “Ich habe genug” (“It is enough”) was written for the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, also known as the Entry of the Lord into the Temple, and focuses on the aged prophet Symeon’s reflections upon seeing and beholding the Christ child, the “Ancient of Days” in his arms. This poem is a paean to an old man’s patience and temperance, and the fulfilling of his lifelong dream. It is the favorite cantata of Bach’s in the ears of many people, and its wonderful middle movement is a testament to melodic high art. This version is one that Bach created a full 20 years after his initial composition, one written for soprano instead of bass. “Mein Herze Schwimmt in Blut” (“My heart is bathed in blood”) for the 11th Sunday of Trinity in the Lutheran calendar where the gospel reading of the day is that of the Publican and Pharisee. Its meditation resides in the idea of the sinner, full of guilt and despair, casting his cares into the wounds of Christ, where he at last finds solace and redemption. This early Weimar work (reused later in his duties at Leipzig) also was flaunted over three or four versions, and the moods he obtains, especially the turn to joy at the end of the work, is a marvel to behold.
The Sinfonia to the Cantata “Wir mussen durch viel Trubsal” is better known to most people as the famous D-minor harpsichord concerto (BWV 1052). It is strange that such a powerful work is present in a cantata, but Bach wrote a full six of them during this period in 1726. As heard here it is usually listed among the “organ concertos” that are extracted from his sinfonias and other works. This one may have begun as a violin work. The second suite is unusual for its intimate flavoring featuring flute, and makes great use of interesting textures provided by the instrument along with the strings.
As I said, these performances are sprightly, idiomatic, assured, and obviously relished by the players. Rarely have I heard a more sensitive “Ich habe genug”, and there are no faults to be found here. The sound is most excellent—decent spread among the instruments and speakers, a lovely floating distinction that supports the soprano nicely, and a program of top quality and interest. What are you waiting for?
— Steven Ritter