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Featured Album July 2024: Vox Luminis & Freiburger Barockorchester "Himmelfahrt"

Featured Album July 2024: Vox Luminis & Freiburger Barockorchester "Himmelfahrt"

Last month was a busy one at Snape Maltings where one of our showrooms is located, with the 75th Aldeburgh Festival taking place. One of the stand-out events was Vox Luminis' sellout performance of Purcell's The Fairy Queen, which prompted our Snape staff to look at the group's latest recording for this month's feature. Recorded alongside the Freiburger Barockorchester and released recently on Alpha Classics, the new album Himmelfahrt presents music by Bach, and a world premiere recording of a cantata by Telemann. Read on to find out more about the album...

Bach & Telemann: Himmelfahrt
Vox Luminis & Freiburger Barockorchester

OUR FEATURED ALBUM FOR JULY 2024

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From the artists' press release:

Vox Luminis has teamed up with the Freiburger Barockorchester again, and together they celebrate music for Ascension Day. This topic inspired great composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach, four of whose Ascension cantatas have been preserved. The festive and colourful Cantata BWV 128 was composed towards the end of Bach’s second year in Leipzig. The Ascension Oratorio BWV 11 was written for larger forces and ends with a triumphant chorus. In the case of Georg Philipp Telemann, more than thirty cantatas for Ascension Day alone have survived. The cantata Ich fahre auf zu meinem Vater (I ascend unto my Father) was composed in 1721 and receives its world premiere recording here. Lionel Meunier’s ensemble and the FBO give a fervent rendering of this captivating music with its texts focusing on the afterlife.

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Why The Early Music Shop loves "Himmelfahrt":

In advance of their recent sold-out appearance at the Aldeburgh Festival in Purcell’s The Fairy Queen, Lionel Meunier and the fifteen voices of Vox Luminis released their latest album, devoted to uplifting cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach and Georg Philipp Telemann for the Feast of the Ascension of Christ. Falling precisely 40 days after Easter and therefore always taking place on a Thursday, Ascension Day was a big deal in the Lutheran Church calendar, one for which Bach composed four specific celebratory cantatas (or rather, four survive – there may well have been more), two of which Meunier gives us on this CD.

Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen (BWV11), composed in 1738, is commonly known as the Ascension Oratorio, as it shares a similar narrative format derived from the Gospel like the Easter and Christmas Oratorios, and as in those oratorios recycles musical material from earlier works. Meunier’s forces capture the jubilant mood of the work’s choral outer movements in music that dances along, with the ever-excellent Freiburg Baroque Orchestra offering punchy yet never strident trumpets and timpani and woodwinds to enhance the unbridled joy. The excellent soloists are all drawn from the members of Vox Luminis, with counter-tenor Alexander Chance contributing a memorable account of the aria ‘Ach, bleibe doch’, more familiar to us in its final re-working as the Agnus Dei from the B minor Mass. The other Bach cantata is BWV128, Auf Christi Himmelfahrt allein, from 1725, for whose opening chorale-based movement Bach employs a pair of horns to reflect Christ’s heavenward journey. The orchestral playing throughout is exemplary, not least in the solo trumpet and bass aria in BWV128 – what riches Bach lay before the Leipzig faithful!

Telemann’s cantata Ich fahre auf zu meinem Vater (TWV1:825; composed 1721 for Frankfurt) is as colourful and pictorial as anything by Bach, arguably more so as Telemann composed for the opera house as well as the church. His ear for orchestral effects is much in evidence in this delightful cantata, with horns, trumpets, recorders and pizzicato strings all skilfully employed and performed with authority by the Freiburg players.

To sum up, this CD is a characteristic example of the continuing high quality of Vox Luminis’s work that has won them friends across Europe. They’ve here recorded music to savour all the year round, not just Ascensiontide.

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Bach & Telemann: Himmelfahrt is available now from The Early Music Shop online or in our Snape Maltings showroom.

Click here to order now!

Click below to watch a 30-second teaser for the album:

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