- Komm, Jesu, komm, motet for chorus & continuo, BWV 229 (BC C3)
- Jesu, meine Freude, motet for 5-part chorus, BWV 227 (BC C5)
- Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf, motet for vocal soloists, chorus & continuo, BWV 226 (BC C2)
- Fürchte dich nicht, ich bin bei dir, motet for double chorus, BWV 228 (BC C4)
- Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, motet for chorus, BWV 225 (BC C1)
If you cannot imagine what Bach's five great motets would sound like as chamber music, this disc by La Petite Bande will provide an answer: they sound fabulous. With eight singers, five string players, and four wind players plus continuo, La Petite Bande's performances sound absolutely clear -- even in the densest textures, every line is ideally balanced -- incredibly colorful -- the combinations of voices, strings, winds, and organ seem endlessly subtle -- and, best of all, unbelievably expressive. Everyone's a soloist and every line is a melody, thereby making Bach's music seem more personal and intimate than usual. Of course, part of the reason for this is that most recordings of the motets, whether a cappella or accompanied, are arguably too big and heavy. With four or more singers on a part, this kind of weightiness is virtually inevitable -- but with two singers to a part, the performances can be as expressive as the music director will allow. And with music director Sigiswald Kuijken also being the first violinist, the performances are supremely expressive. One of the great period-instrument violinists and conductors, Kuijken's leadership here appears to consist of being first among equals and the result is surely as fine a set of performances of the motets as has ever been released. Challenge Classics' 2003 recording is vivid and immediate.