Retrospect Ensemble - J.S. Bach Easter and Ascension Oratorios - PS Tracks

 

Life is not a race, nor should music be. When it comes to new recordings, it's hard to pick winners; sometimes the best ones need time to grow on you (see Music for a Time of War, above). But if I were to single out one Early Music Winner this quarter, it would undoubtedly be the Retrospect Ensemble's dynamic SACD of the J. S. Bach Easter and Ascension Oratorios (Linn CKD 373). It is simply the most musical realization of these two works I have ever encountered. A signal component of their success is indeed dynamics. Whereas many early-instrument groups (and that includes vocal "instruments") seem to avoid microdynamic phrasing, not to mention the stirring buildups of sonic energy (i.e., crescendi) implicit in much music-even that created before 1750-Retrospect goes for it. Listen to the Sinfonia of the Easter Oratorio:

PS Tracks
11 March 2012