Ricercar Consort
J.S. Bach: Consolatio


4.2
excellent

Review

by Jacquibim STAFF
March 28th, 2018 | 21 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: (n)

I stewed for what seemed like hours, exhausted in my quest to approach Philippe Pierlot's latest Bach interpretation, Consolatio, in way that would come across as “thoughtful” – whatever that's supposed to mean. Dithering led to the biting of fingernails as I tacked away for the sake of writing something, the results of which were tantamount to Homer Simpson's “screw Flanders” brand of word-count buffering. Without having saved a phrase, I gave up, tossing the idea of reviewing a Bach recording into the fissures of my mind, revisiting once but within a heartbeat thinking, “I don't know, actually, no”.

That was a month ago.

After all, I can't offer anything that would expand upon the centuries' worth of scholarly dissection and technical analyses of anything and everything Bach. Nor could I muster any kind of novel critique about the profundity of the messages that imbue the man's sacred work. Generations of infinitely more qualified folks have done a better job of that than I could ever hope to, yet I feel this desire to give my two cents for two simple reasons. One, I'd succumbed to a mentality which should never dissuade anyone from enjoying classical music; two, because I adore this recording and believe that more people should hear it. It really isn't that complicated and nor should it be. I can't imagine that Bach, a devout Christian as much as a composer obsessed with artistic beauty and perfection, would've been thrilled by the idea of people hesitating to enjoy his art because of some perception that it's only for a few.

In a way, elitist sentiments find themselves in stark contrast to the titular theme of this recording's first Cantata, “Die Elenden Sollen Essen / The Miserable Shall Eat” – a commentary on those who are poor of wealth but rich in spirit. It's anything but unwelcoming; though Bach was sometimes dismissed as a contrapuntalist in his day, the technical brilliance of his work was nevertheless eclipsed by its majesty and grace. Director Pierlot seems to understand the great composer's intent, or at least his presuppositions about them match my own. Under his command, Ricercar Consort seem to politely guide the more melodic sensibilities to the foreground. Left standing behind them at arm's length are the intricacies, content to play a supporting role and ready to be heard at the behest of the more studious.

In lieu of the rigidity that often plagues what we hear of the Baroque period, there is a kind of joyousness to the performances here. Hannah Morrison's soprano singing is the crown jewel, existing at the nexus between the tenor and baritone voices, as well as strings and wind instruments that are in constant tandem with each other. A hint – and I mean a hint – of glitz comes courtesy of the gossamer harpsichord, seldom absent but always welcomed to offer its glistening timbres as a counterpoint to the slickness of its company.

The seamless coalescence of all these elements is something of a rarity in the utterly saturated catalogue of Bach recordings. Conviction in both the execution and direction is apparent within the blink of an eye; there is both freedom and a healthy dose of discipline; expression is not simply contrasted with but is enriched by and derives from perfection, so on and so forth. This comes across regardless of source material, whether it be via the grandeur of “Herr Jesu Christ, wahr' Mensch und Gott” or “Die Elenden Sollen Essen”'s tame-by-comparison second aria. Even uniformity of quality hasn't given way to uniformity of experience, a variance that has proven illusive for some of the field's most accomplished players. Whether Consolatio is true to Bach's vision we cannot know for sure, but Pierlot and his little collective have crafted something that is arresting in all the right ways.



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user ratings (6)
Chart.
3.8
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
March 28th 2018


3143 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I have returned, after an eternity away from you all, Jac of Birbs is back



https://open.spotify.com/album/34AqZntyvqCOBTSLsxDXn1?si=6H3Ce-f9QRy7YujQxFjqsQ



birb: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jZdupkzJeU



Never tried to review anything like this before so I hope my lack of classical training doesn't come across too sharply in my words D:

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
March 28th 2018


41225 Comments


very good review! I actually learned things

Digging: Copeland - Blushing

Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
March 28th 2018


3143 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thank you dearest rowbro, dunno if this is you kinda ish but try it anyways < 3

ramon.
Contributing Reviewer
March 28th 2018


2918 Comments


hello jac

Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
March 28th 2018


3143 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

greetings spicy one

ramon.
Contributing Reviewer
March 28th 2018


2918 Comments


welcome back to the pride, ponstafa

Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
March 28th 2018


3143 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

gonna request a name change rn

ramon.
Contributing Reviewer
March 28th 2018


2918 Comments


I’d PayPal you 10$ if you did

Pho3nix
March 28th 2018


579 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thank you for the review, Sputnik needs to be injected with more classical, even film score music

DivergentThinking
March 28th 2018


6046 Comments


Great rev, Jac! I agree with Pho3nix that there needs to be more classical appreciation (and jazz appreciation, for that matter) on the site. And I like the angle you took; it would be easy to just describe the music in linear terms, discussing all the music theory and methodically picking apart the little details. But you describe the impact of those aspects, which is always important, even in a genre so rooted in technical intricacies

Doctuses
March 28th 2018


1880 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm here to help with classical. actually that's the only reason i'm here. have written 12 classical reviews so far. and I'll have to check this!

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
March 28th 2018


16664 Comments


never heard this. herreweghe is my man when it comes to bach

Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
March 28th 2018


3143 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks guys I've included the spotify link in my first comment so don't be strangers (!)

Divaman
March 29th 2018


3315 Comments


Ah, Bach!

Digging: Rachael Sage - Choreographic

bloc
March 29th 2018


54426 Comments


"Ricercar"

So, like a Honda Civic?

Digging: The Go! Team - Thunder, Lightning, Strike

bgillesp
March 29th 2018


6594 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I thought that too bloc. Gonna check this though

Digging: Grateful Dead - Anthem of the Sun

bloc
March 29th 2018


54426 Comments


^Hell yeah, we on the same wavelength bgill lol

Pho3nix
March 29th 2018


579 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Was a bit startled at first since I thought this was going to be purely instrumental... the vocal parts became quite enjoyable in the end though!



Might I recommend the Master & Commander soundtrack to any Bach fans out there; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lS7iU8vXWc

MarsKid
March 29th 2018


8553 Comments


A featured review of a classical release? And Jac???

Good to see you back, and a solid review to boot.

Digging: Wounds (USA-IL) - Light Eater

brainmelter
March 30th 2018


6238 Comments


nice

Digging: You and I - The Curtain Falls



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