- Magnificat, for 5 voices, 5-part chorus, orchestra & continuo in E flat major, BWV 243a (BC E14)
- Cantata No. 151, "Süsser Trost, mein Jesus kömmt," BWV 151 (BC A17)
- Mass for 3 voices, chorus, orchestra & continuo in F major, BWV 233 (BC E6)
The Bach performances by John Eliot Gardiner and his Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists mostly have a strong family resemblance. They're mellifluous, moderate in tempo and approach (with a not-too-small choir), with an attractive combination of being extremely well controlled and yet imbued with an open sense of commitment to what is being sung. Without saying a thing against the body of recordings with these traits, it's good to find that Gardiner can set them aside from time to time. This recording of Bach's "Magnificat," introduced effectively by a Missa Brevis and a short cantata, is taken at breakneck speeds that challenge the Monteverdi Choristers -- not to a damaging point, but the usual relaxed smoothness is not there, either -- and the attacks are sharp. Sample the slashing "Omnes generationes." The sound fits with Gardiner's conception of the piece, which is performed in its rarely heard original version. It differs from the familiar "Magnificat in D major, BWV 243," in several ways. Most significantly it is in E flat major, not D major, which is a much more difficult key for trumpets and imparts a certain tension to the whole. The music also contains little pieces called laudes interpolated into the text. Bach later eliminated these, and the general consensus on the changes Bach made is that he knew what he was doing. Yet it is intriguing to hear his first draft, especially done at the high level here. It may be that St. Jude's Church in Hampstead Garden Suburb is one of the few churches where any engineering clarity in this work could have been maintained at Gardiner's tempos, but in fact the sound is impressive.