Press: Recent Recording Reviews

J. S. Bach: Motets [October 2010]
Bach Sinfonia & Sinfonia Voci; Laura Heimes, soprano; Abigail H. Lennox, soprano; Anne Marieke Evers, alto; Scott Mello, tenor; Steven Combs, bass; Daniel Abraham, conductor
Dorian/Sono Luminus, DSL-92119


"The Bach Sinfonia’s fourth recording captures the motets of J.S. Bach in a historically accurate yet fresh way."

" . . . acoustic in the recording is transparent; all of the desired textures and themes are heard with absolute clarity."

"The tempo of each motet is quick when compared to other Bach motet recordings. The relatively fast tempos, however, do not obscure the intelligibility of the music . . . Abraham’s control of the ensemble is astonishing."

" . . . many aspects of the CD to enjoy, whether it be the refreshing tempos, the impressive articulation, or text treatment. The Bach Sinfonia presents a recording that is both informative and enjoyable."
—Garrett Saake, Choral Journal, February 2013


“Under its dynamic music director, Daniel Abraham, the Washington-based Bach Sinfonia has brought to light many works that may not have been heard for two centuries or more, but the motets are among Bach’s most frequently recorded music. It’s a proper challenge, met with distinction.”

“. . . certain choices he has made indicate that Abraham is a serious scholar as well as a talented musician.”

“Abraham’s performances are finely detailed, blissfully free of eccentricities, and sung beautifully and confidently by the Sinfonia’s vocal arm, Sinfonia Voci. I’ll add this disc to a growing list of worthy motet recordings that includes Erickson and Holten, Hemetsberger (with a monster choir), Junghanel and Kooij (with minimal forces), as well as old favorites Marlow, Kuijken, and Herreweghe.”
—George Chien, Fanfare, March 2011


“This latest release from Bach Sinfonia, the Washington, DC, ensemble directed by Daniel Abraham, has taken on a mighty challenge: the entirely of the Bach motets. They have emerged victorious indeed.”

“The ensemble is recognized for its exceptional attention to detail, especially where articulation is concerned. One almost does not need the text, so clear is each voice part. The German sounds native, with delightful inflection and phrasing, even (especially?) in the heavily contrapuntal fugal sections. They have a delightfully rich sound, which manages at once to be warm, inviting, and crystal clear. The entire ensemble is especially well-balanced; kudos to both the ensemble and the disc’s recording engineers.”

“The beautiful counterpoint in the chorus of Komm, Jesu, Komm . . . the lightness in the fugal ending of Ich lasse dich nicht, the concluding Alleluja of Lobet den Herrn—all are absolutely glorious moments on this recording.”

“There is a beautiful uniformity of purpose in this recording; every person in the ensemble is of one musical mind, executing turns of phrase, dynamic contrasts, cadential tension, and relaxation with an almost surreal single-minded approach, allowing the music to unfold like some grand Bach-ian teleology. There simply is no down side to anything on the recording, no moments to nitpick about, no choices to regret.”
—Karen Cook, Early Music America, June 2011


“. . . enviable technical, musical, and recording quality, stacking up well against the finest accounts available.”

“Singers and players alike offer everything these daunting works require: remarkable vocal facility and flexibility, spot-on accuracy, spiritual intensity, and stylistic sensitivity—all with exemplary balance and exceptional warmth of tone.”
—Lindsay Koob, American Record Guide, March 2011


“The Bach Sinfonia not only navigates these intricate pieces with its exuberant ups and downs, it does it with such grace and ease that you think you can do it, too. Listening to the disc in the car, I learned otherwise . . . and you’ll be full of new respect not just for the singers but for Bach’s genius. I like this group for giving new energy to these oft-performed pieces, and for making me want to hear them again.”
—Mary Kunz Goldman, The Buffalo News, March 2011


“The Bach Sinfonia’s motet performances are top-notch. . . . . Under the sure-handed direction of Daniel Abraham, the ensemble brings a smooth, pure tone to seven motets”

“The most extended work here is Jesu, meine Freude, BWV 227, handled with considerable emotional sensitivity. Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, BWV 225, the other extended work on the CD, is also carefully structured and convincingly delivered. The shorter works also receive exemplary treatment . . . .”

“. . . . that the overall effect of Bach’s religiosity comes through particularly strongly when a disc as well sung as this one is heard from beginning to end, giving modern listeners a chance to immerse themselves in a level of religious involvement and sensibility that most people have lost today but with which the music of Bach is so thoroughly imbued that it is no exaggeration to describe it as the core value of his entire output.”
—"Bounteous Beauties of Bach", Infodad.com, February 2011
**** (top rating)

“. . . an outstanding job, scholarly and artistically, with Johann Sebastian Bach’s Motets.

“Scholarship is essential . . . . All of which means that Abraham and the Bach Sinfonia had decisions to make in terms of performance style and emphasis, questions which they resolve very happily here. The true flavor and richness of Bach’s à capella writing comes through magnificently. There is never any vagueness or indecision about the clarity of the vocal lines . . .”
—Phil Muse, Audio Video Club of Atlanta, December 2010
 
 
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The Art of Vivaldi's Lute [May 2011]
Ronn McFarlane, lute; Jennifer Ellis Kampani, soprano; William Bauer, viola d'amore; Bach Sinfonia; Daniel Abraham, conductor
Dorian/Sono Luminus, DSL-92132


“ …conductor Daniel Abraham and his ensemble maintain balances that promote articulate interplay. Each work receives distinctive treatment…in tandem with the Bach Sinfonia’s refined flexibility.”

"There’s also a chance to hear Vivaldi in motet mode. Soprano Jennifer Ellis Kampani is the expressive, nimble soloist in In turbato mare irato in tandem with the Bach Sinfonia’s refined flexibility."

 
—Donald Rosenberg, Gramophone, October 2011
"Ronn McFarlane’s lute is ever present in this varied and pleasurable programme"

“The title of this recording, and the presence of renowned lutenist Ronn McFarlane, might lead one to believe that this relatively rare instrument is always front and center in this all-Vivaldi release. However, the collegial musicality of all the musicians shines through in each selection. . . . Equally pleasing is the music scholarship of director Daniel Abraham, as articulate and engaging in his role as program annotator as he is when directing the ensemble.”
—WETA Classical FM 90.9
"Pick of the Week," June 27, 2011

 
"In 'The Art of Vivaldi’s Lute,' famed lutenist Ronn McFarlane joins the Washington area based Bach Sinfonia under its director Daniel Abraham to forge an unbeatable combination."
—Phil Muse, Audio Video Club of Atlanta, June 2011
 
"Vivaldi certainly had an ear for the sound of stringed instruments—and so do McFarlane and the players of the Bach Sinfonia under Daniel Abraham."
—Infodad.com, May 2011
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Passion & Lament: Choral Masterworks of the 17th Century [October 2009]
Bach Sinfonia & Sinfonia Voci; Jennifer Ellis Kampani, soprano; Barbara Hollinshead, alto; Tony Boutté, tenor; Sumner Thompson, bass; Daniel Abraham, conductor
Dorian/Sono Luminus DSL-90913


“Even without its top-drawer choral precision, seductive blend, and stylistic sensitivity, Passion and Lament, . . . would turn heads. . . . impeccably-blended vocal warmth shaped by Abraham with a supple feeling for line and gesture.”
—Paul Riley, BBC Magazine, June 2010
“Winning Affections: Paul Riley is Moved by Daniel Abraham’s Collection of Baroque Choral Works”


“. . . a performance that demonstrates the integrity with which the group approaches their work . . . Abraham paces his orchestra perfectly, carefully supporting the singers and chorus.”
—Karen Cook, Early Music America, Summer 2010

“Carissimi’s Jepthe concludes with a spellbinding six-part chorus, chock full of gorgeous imitative lines and heart rending suspensions. . . . Some tastes might prefer a larger group of singers that might come into their own in this fabulous finale . . . . The recent American recording conducted by Daniel Abraham uses sixteen singers, so that is ten more than most. There is a lovely balance between the parts, a rich texture, impeccable tuning, and excellent diction. If you want to hear the famous final chorus sung by a so-called ‘normal’ choir, then look no further.”
—David Vickers, "CD Review: Building a Library: Carissimi's Jephte," BBC Radio 3, May 2010


“This superb disc merits about the highest praise I can give it, great singing and playing, and a program that is both logical and instructive.”
—Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition, July 2010
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G. F. Handel's Alexander's Feast, HWV 75
J. S. Bach's Alles mit Gott und nichts ohn' ihn, BWV 1127

Bach Sinfonia & Handel Choir of Baltimore; Amanda Balestrieri, soprano; Scot Cameron, tenor; David Newman, bass-baritone; Daniel Abraham, conductor
Dorian Records DSL-20604 [May 2008]


“. . . a performance that demonstrates the integrity with which the group approaches their work . . . Abraham paces his orchestra perfectly, carefully supporting the singers and chorus.”
—Dee Gallo, Early Music America, May 2008

“Most choral aficionados, when purchasing a recording of a distinctly British Baroque choral work, immediately seek out English heavy-hitters like John Eliot Gardiner, who can provide clean traditional-instrument accompaniment, delightfully ‘precious’ British diction, and virtuoso performers. However, Daniel Abraham’s recording of Alexander’s Feast suggests that ensembles on this side of the Atlantic can also produce a more than respectable performance of this repertoire.”

“Daniel Abraham has memorialized an interpretation of Handel’s Alexander’s Feast that can proudly pose in the CD racks along with the bigger names associated with English Baroque music.”
—C. Leonard Raybon, Choral Journal, September 2008