I first came across Lorraine Hunt Lieberson a year or two ago searching NPR for stories on Johann Sebastian Bach. She died Monday morning of cancer at the age of 52; you can listen to a good audio obituary from NPR here. I was sorry to hear of her death.
I nearly think that the music of Bach’s 82d cantata is so sublime that it would sound good even if Ronan Tynan was singing it (and the reason for the hesitation is not because the cantata is typically sung by a lower voice, if you know what I mean). There are innumerable recordings to choose from, and I certainly have not listened to them all. But I well appreciate Lorraine Hunt Lieberson’s recording of the work. Her singing is beautiful, and really fits this masterpiece. The strange irony here is that the cantatas Lieberson sings on this recording (BWVs 82 and 199) are about death. The text (German/English) for BWV 82, “Ich habe genug,” or “I have now enough,” is based on the prophecy of Simeon in the temple after Jesus is brought there to be presented to the Lord (Lk 2:22-32). Here you can listen to an entire aria from the CD. If you were going to start a Bach cantata collection, this disc would not be a bad place to start. You will soon find why I think that early music lovers are worse off with her passing.