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Gavin Dixon
Classical CD Reviews, August 2010

…this is essentially a modern recording conforming to modern artistic and technical principles. It’s a studio recording, so the resonance is presumably courtesy of the recording technology. The result is a warm, comfortable aural environment, pleasant but without ever a hint of the atmosphere of a church.

The Norwegian soprano Siri Karoline Thornhill has an attractive tone and very natural phrasing style. She applies a light vibrato to the longer notes, weighing her sound more to the modern than the baroque…a competent and attractive performance…The Cologne Bach Vocal Ensemble also give serviceable renditions of the chorales&hellips;I’ve no complaints about the articulation, balance or tuning.

Cantata no. 52 Falsche Welt opens with a reworking of the Sinfonia from the 1st Brandenburg Concerto…There is a period performance lightness to the phrasing, but the roundness of tone from the modern instruments categorically distinguishes it from the sounds of the baroque purists. Thornhill gives us some heartfelt recitatives, ‘False world, I trust thee not’ giving her an opportunity for some operatic passion.

Cantata No. 84 Ich bin vergnüngt mit meinem Glücke opens with the sort of flowing oboe obligato aria that you might expect to hear at a brisk pace these days. This slower reading emphasises timbral warmth over contrapuntal intrigue, and is no worse for that. The ensemble exposition to the central aria Ich esse mit Freuden is similarly voluptuous, and the balance of all these contrapuntal lines with the voice, when it enters, is exemplary, a demonstration of the advantages of taking Bach out of the church and playing him in the recording studio instead.

Canata No.199 Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut is the most sombre of the set, and benefits from Thornhill’s combination of operatic expression and baroque restraint. Long, impassioned phrases, with occasional discrete ornamentation and just a touch of vibrato, all add up to an attractive and convincing take on Bach’s vocal lines, whatever the purists might think.

Cantata No.51 Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen! is the best known of these cantatas, largely I suspect because of the interplay of voice and trumpet obligato. The skills of the balance engineers are again much in evidence here, especially in the way that the trumpet’s lines are always clearly distinguished, yet always subordinate to the singer…Thornhill projects enough energy through her phrasing to keep the momentum. Some very attractive singing it the other two arias as well…Thornhill is clearly tuned in to the aesthetic of the orchestra, and she does them full justice by matching their balance of baroque and modern sensibilities.

George Chien
Fanfare, July 2010

Four of Bach’s sacred cantatas for solo soprano have survived, but this is the first time all four have come to me on a single disc. BWV 51, with its obbligato trumpet and blistering Alleluia, is one of the most popular of all the cantatas, but the richly emotional No. 199 and No. 84, with its theme of modest contentment, have also benefited from multiple recordings. Cantata 52, despite its rousing sinfonia (from the first Brandenburg Concerto), has received less attention. All now have a bright new advocate in the English-born, Norwegian soprano Siri Karoline Thornhill. Thornhill, who studied in the Netherlands with Elly Ameling and Ton Koopman, among others, has assembled an impressive résumé, including, significantly, appearances with Philippe Herreweghe and Sigiswald Kuijken, for whom she has recorded a number of Bach cantatas on the Accent label. The present disc reveals an appealing vocal quality—clean, agile, superbly controlled, secure throughout the range—serving an appropriate understanding of the texts…The ever-dependable and increasingly indispensible Helmut Müller-Brühl provides the necessary support.

John Boyer
American Record Guide, May 2010

…Siri Thornhill…performance is every bit as delightful. She’s a joy to hear.

To read the complete review, please visit American Record Guide online.

Gavin Dixon
MusicWeb International, March 2010

Thornhill is clearly tuned in to the aesthetic of the orchestra, and she does them full justice by matching their balance of baroque and modern sensibilities…

David Denton
David's Review Corner, December 2009

You could never accuse Bach of being found wanting for melodic invention, even when on that treadmill of supplying an unending flow of cantatas to meet the demands of his employer. As an expedient he was not averse to borrowing from previous works of his own or others, the opening sinfonia of the Fifty-second cantata using music from his First Brandenburg Concerto. Elsewhere in the four cantatas everything seems to have been original, the Fifty-first, Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen! (Praise God in all lands) one of his most popular in the genre. They follow a similar formula of alternating recitatives and arias for the solo soprano voice with one movement given to the chorus, texts always of religious origin. The Norwegian soprano, Siri Karoline Thornhill, a singer of impeccable diction and intonation, has that stylised tonal quality now much favoured in Bach circles and is just one shade away from the boy soprano. It brings a sense of transparency to the vocal line that I enjoy. The conducting of Helmut Müller-Brühl avoids the excesses of period ‘authenticity’ now invading so many recordings. He uses a very small orchestra where the chamber organ is much in evidence, the many orchestral solo passages, particularly the oboe in BWV199, are well handled. The disc has been available in Germany for the past couple of years and enjoys good solid sound engineering.

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