For biographer Philipp Spitta, Bach's period as organist and later Konzertmeister to the Duke of Weimar (1708-17) was the time of his ‘early mastery’. Nowhere is this more evident than in the small but highly distinguished body of cantatas he wrote there, whether for the court chapel – the Himmelsburg or ‘Castle of Heaven’ – or for some clearly very joyful wedding (BWV202). From the ravishing duets for soprano and oboe of the latter to the penitential strains of BWV199, the radiant voice of Carolyn Sampson and the virtuosos of the Freiburger Barockorchester do full justice to Bach's inventiveness.
Soprano Carolyn Sampson has been proclaimed "the best British early music soprano by some distance" by the editors of Gramophone. A native of Bedford, she studied voice with Richard Smart at the University of Birmingham, and made her debut with the English National Opera in a production of Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea and continues to appear with this company with regularity in addition to appearances at the Paris Opera. The vast majority of Sampson's singing has been heard in concert engagements with period ensembles, and by 2006 she had appeared with most of the best-known groups of this sort, but especially the King's Consort, Collegium Vocale, and Ex Cathedra. Sampson has recorded extensively for the Hyperion, BIS, Harmonia Mundi, and Deux-elles labels. (Presto Classical)