Sunday, October 05, 2008

Daniel Taylor's Voice of Bach

daniel taylor voice of bach theatre of early musicOne of the most engaging ways that Baroque music has been making inroads among listeners is through the power of the rare but opulent countertenor voice. Montreal-based Daniel Taylor has taken the journey a step further in the creation of The Theatre of Early Music, an ensemble dedicated to not just the recreation of baroque music, but the revelation of it. TEM's mission:
"We explore the depth and substance of this choral and instrumental literature as we share our ideas and passion. The key aspect involved in the approach of the Theatre of Early Music is revelation: just as in modern-day we have restored the frescoes of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, so do we hope to reveal the original beauty of ancient works. Therein we hope to understand, communicate and celebrate this inspirational music."
Therefore, it is wearing the twin hats of soloist and artistic director that Daniel Taylor makes his Sony BMG Masterworks debut in The Voice of Bach, a compilation of sinfonias, arias, duets (with soprano Agnes Zsigovics) and choral numbers (with the Theatre of Early Music Choir). What sets this recording apart right away is the transparency and intimacy of texture, noticeable in the opening Sinfonia from Christ lag in Todesbanden. In the arias, Taylor's voice doesn't dominate the texture the way many voices do in many recordings of late--instead, it feels much more integrated into the texture of the ensemble as a whole.

The Voice of Bach
feels like a celebration of Bach's instrumental and choral writing as much as it is a celebration of Taylor's countertenor voice. The Motet from Cantata BWV 118b (O Jesu Christ meines Lebens Licht) and the chorale Vor deinen Thron tret ich hiermit showcase the TEM Choir as a vocal ensemble of the highest order--their sense of authenticity isn't just an academic exercise, but a journey into details of text, voice-leading and harmony that one can actually feel. Taylor also sings two meticulously prepared duets with Agnes Zsigovics (Wir eilen mit Schwachen and Du wahrer Gott und Davids Sohn). The only drawback about this type of recording project is that my favorite tracks (Erbarme Dich from the St. Matthew Passion, Es ist vollbracht from the St. John Passion, and two arias from the Christmas Oratorio) left me wanting to hear the dramatic and emotional scope of the complete works instead of just the highlights--I wanted the full meal instead of selected courses.

You can catch Daniel Taylor and the Theatre of Early Music in numerous venues across Canada this fall:

10/11/08 – Edmonton – University of Alberta
10/13/08 – Kelowna
10/17/08 – Quebec – Sacred Music Festival
10/19/08 – Quebec – Sacred Music Festival
10/23/08 – Quebec – Sacred Music Festival
10/24/08 – Montreal – Eglise St Irenee
10/26/08 – Dorval
10/26/08 – St. Leonard
10/27/08 – Westmount
10/30/08 – Montreal – Chapelle du Bon Pasteur
10/31/08 – Pierrefonds
12/04/08 – Kitchener

Check out the TEM concert listings for more info.

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