The vocal soloist was contralto Avery Amereau. She impressed mightily in her first appearance here, in late 2016, and has grown with each return visit. She took an impassioned approach to the cantata, flinging out the phrases of its libretto (by the Darmstadt poet Georg Christian Lehms) as if we were meant to really, really believe their disdain for the shortcomings of mortal souls. (“The world, that house of sins,/Brings forth nothing but hellish lyrics/And seeks through hatred and envy/To prize the devil’s image.”) Her velvety voice was smoothly connected from top (E) to bottom (a startling low A), and was more distinct in coloratura than one expects from so ample a voice — including immaculate articulation of a trill the composer demands, extended through seven slow beats.
Mr. Keene had a terrific alto soloist in Avery Amereau, the only female singer in the performances I heard to venture the low-lying aria “Es ist vollbracht” (“It is accomplished”), accompanied by viola da gamba. Ms. Amereau is herself something of a welcome throwback at a time when countertenors have all but displaced contraltos in early music.
In her aria “Ach, bleibe doch,” though, mezzo-soprano Avery Amereau drew the drama from some place deep within herself, the lowest notes a rich, enveloping curtain of clarity and undulating vibrato. Her sotto voce da capo, achingly mirrored by her orchestral counterparts, was a moment of easy musical magic.