- Salve Regina, antiphon for soprano & chamber orchestra in F major, CW E24 (T. 209/1)
- Laudate pueri (Psalm 112), vesper-psalm for 2 solo voices & orchestra in G major, CW E19 (T. 206/1)
- Si nocte tenebrosa, solo motet for voice & orchestra, CW F4a (T. 209/5)
Even though his father is history's preeminent composer of Lutheran music, Johann Christian Bach wrote religious works for performance in the Catholic Mass. J. C. Bach settled in Italy in 1755, and in due course he converted to Catholicism, leaving the faith of his father and causing enduring sorrow to his family. The reasons for his conversion are not fully understood, but regardless, he left behind a small trove of religious musical treasures, and this lovely recording presents three of them: the Marian Antiphon "Salve Regina" for solo soprano, the Vespers Psalm "Laudate pueri Dominum" for soprano and tenor, and the Motet "Si nocte tenebrosa" for tenor. Each shows J. C. fully engaged in the elegant, graceful style of the mid-18th century with music reminiscent of the simple charm of early Mozart. Soprano Emma Kirkby is the soloist in the "Salve Regina," whose six movements begin with a poised Largo, followed by a florid Allegro, testing the bounds of Kirby's coloratura. Tenor Markus Schäfer joins Kirby in the "Laudate," which opens and closes with a pair of spirited duets, bookends to a series of solo movements. Completing the symmetry, the final work is Schäfer's alone, attractively sung and accompanied, as are the others, by the splendid Orfeo Barockorchester directed by Michi Gaigg.