Episode 187. Elly Ameling Sings Bach

Episode 187. Elly Ameling Sings Bach



An artist whose singing has been with me throughout my entire life journey is Dutch soprano Elly Ameling, who on February 8 celebrated her 90th birthday. Ameling was most celebrated as a singer of art song, and justly so, but another repertoire she performed with particular grace and aplomb was the music of the baroque, specifically the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. This, the first of a pair of Ameling episodes planned for this season, presents her exclusively in that repertoire, in live performances and recordings over the course of her career’s prime, from the mid-sixties through the mid-eighties. I have chosen to focus on three works which she performed frequently and for which we have more than one recorded example extant: Cantata 51, “Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen”; Cantata 202, “Weichet nur,” the so-called Wedding Cantata; and the St. Matthew Passion. I feature extended excerpts from each of these works as well as a smattering of Ameling performances of other Bach works, as well a song once wrongly attributed to Bach, “Bist du bei mir.” Throughout this episode, Ameling’s key artistic virtues are on full display: a crystalline voice of ineffable purity; an impeccable vocal technique that encompassed long-limbed cantilena as well as rapid-fire coloratura; and a verbal acuity that, even in such technically challenging music, always put the words first and foremost. She is the ideal Bach singer, and, dare I say it, maybe the finest Bach soprano that ever lived.


All works, unless otherwise noted, are by Johann Sebastian Bach and all are sung by Elly Ameling.

Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel [formerly attributed Johann Sebastian Bach]: Bist du bei mir (Diomedes). Dalton Baldwin [1973]

Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, BWV 51:

Aria. Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen. Edward H. Tarr, Kurt Thomas, Das Collegium Musicum des WDR [radio broadcast, mid-1960s]

Recit. Wir beten zu dem Tempel an. Helmut Winschermann, Deutsche Bachsolisten. [1970]

Aria. Höchster, mache dein Güte. Kurt Thomas, Das Collegium Musicum des WDR [radio broadcast, 1960s]

Alleluia. Maurice André, Helmut Winschermann, Deutsche Bachsolisten [1970]

Aria. Ei! Wie schmeckt der Coffee süsse (Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht [Coffee Cantata], BWV 211). Hans-Martin Linde, Franzjosef Maier, Collegium Aureum [1968]

Aria. Bereitet die Wege, bereitet die Bahn (Bereitet die Wege, BWV 132). Gerhard Schmidt-Gaden, Collegium Musicum des WDR [radio recording 1964]

Aria. Ricetti gramezza e pavento (Non sa che sia dolore, BWV 209). William Bennett, Raymond Leppard, English Chamber Orchestra [1982]

Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten [Wedding Cantata], BWV 202:

Aria. Weichet nur. Helmuth Hucke, Reinhard Peters, Collegium Aureum [1964]

Recit. Die Welt wird wieder neu; Aria. Phoebus eilt mit schnellen Pferden. Roger Birnstingl, Neville Marriner, Academy of St Martin in the Fields [1973]

Recit. Drum sucht auch Amor sein Vergnügen; Aria. Wenn die Frühlingslüfte streichen. Moshe Hammer, Elyakim Taussig, Coenraad Bloemendal [live Stratford Festival 02.VII.81]

Recit. Und dieses ist das Glücke. Eugen Jochum, Concertgebouw Orchestra [live 1973]

Aria. Sich üben im lieben (Weichet nur, BWV 202). Elly Ameling, Han de Vries, Richte van der Meer, Albert de Klerk [1983]

Recit. So sei das Band der keuschen Liebe; Aria (Gavotte). Sehet in Zufriedenheit. Cees van der Krann, Eugen Jochum, Concertgebouw Orchestra [live 1973]

Hermann Prey

Duet. Nun verschwinden alle Plagen (Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen, BWV 32). Hermann Prey, Ingo Goritzki, Helmut Winschermann, Deutsche Bachsolisten [1970]

Aria. Tief gebückt und voller Reue (Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut, BWV 199). Helmut Winschermann, Deutsche Bachsolisten [1970]

from the Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244:

Aria. Blute nur, du liebes Herz. Hein Jordans, Brabant Orchestra [live Holland, spring 1971]

Recit. Wiewohl mein Herz in Tränen schwimmt; Aria. Ich will dir mein Herze schenken. Helmut Winschermann, Hanspeter Weber, Karl Münchinger, Stuttgarter Kamemrorchester [1964]

Janet Baker

Duet and Chorus. So ist mein Jesus nun gefangen. Janet Baker, Paul Steinitz, Steinitz Bach Players, London Bach Society [live London 18.III.72]

Recit. Er hat uns allen wohlgetan; Aria. Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben. Paul Steinitz, Steinitz Bach Players [live London 18.III.72]

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