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Posted September 19, 2012
Gardiner, Monteverdi Choir set standard for Bach Motets
The motet format, considered basic and compulsory achievement for the Baroque era, reaches a pinnacle of excellence consistent with tradition through the work of the Monteverdi Choir under the direction of John Eliot Gardiner. This performance of Six Motets by J. S. Bach, recorded at St. John’s at Smith Square in London during October 2011, will stand as example and standard for choirs reaching for performance excellence. And it seems to be within easy reach for all in the choir. No section dominates, but when one states a motif, another answers equally; balance and expression are precise and perfectly timed. The familiar chorales with repetition, counterpoint, and embellishments bring fresh appreciation for the motet for four-part or six-part minimally accompanied choir.
The clever cover illustration, inner cover, and unique booklet/case remind the audience that this group fully grasps the intricacies of this music. Parts share equally the clarity of line and lilt, elocution, and emotion in this stellar presentation of church music. The accompanying booklet notes by Sir Gardiner further explain the individual motets to enrich the enjoyment of the listener.
This collection will be a valuable addition to the collection of a scholar, choir director, library, or general listener for the further appreciation of the genius of J.S. Bach.
Posted July 11, 2012
The great BWV catalog of Bach's music groups six shorter vocal pieces together as "the motets," though scholars debate whether there may have been more of them, now lost. Unlike his major choral works and cantatas, there is no accompaniment provided for most of these, so there's no consensus about the use of instruments in their performance, either. All agree, however, that these brief pieces--apparently written for funeral or memorial services--display Bach's art in miniature. I always enjoy listening to the Monteverdi Choir, but I had to marvel at the lightness of some of the singing in this recording. (They make it sound so easy!) Although the music often seems to fly by, and there's a very dance-like feel to it, tempi are actually slower than Harnoncourt employs with a larger chorus. In addition to the canonical Six, Gardiner also includes "Ich lasse dich nicht," a less intricate work. This comes in the usual SDG hardcover album with texts and essays.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.