- Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf, motet for double chorus, winds, strings & continuo, BWV 226 (BC C2)
- Fürchte dich nicht, ich bin bei dir, motet for double chorus, BWV 228 (BC C4)
- Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden, motet for chorus & organ, BWV 230 (BC C6)
- Jesu, meine Freude, motet for 5-part chorus, BWV 227 (BC C5)
- Komm, Jesu, komm, motet for chorus & continuo, BWV 229 (BC C3)
- Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, motet for chorus, BWV 225 (BC C1)
In this exemplary recording of six Bach motets Philippe Herreweghe leads Collegium Vocale Ghent (an ensemble that includes both singers and instrumentalists) and ten soloists in performances of exceptional finesse and elegance. That's no easy task given the dense contrapuntal textures that characterizes several of the motets written for double chorus and orchestra. It takes great skill to keep the music, in a movement like the opening to "Singet dem Herr ein neues Lied," from turning into a murky undifferentiated stew of busyness, but Herreweghe keeps the sound open and varied. One crucial element is the absolutely pristine intonation and pure tone of the singers, which makes the harmonies clear and distinct. Herreweghe's graceful shaping of the phrases creates the sense of overlapping waves rising and falling rather than a monolithic wall of sound. The choruses' discipline in their precise observance of producing matching vowels is another factor that allows the intricacies of the music to come across as clean and well-defined. Although it is scored it for the same forces, in "Komm, Jesu, komm" Bach works with gleaming, transparent textures, where the felicities of Herreweghe's leadership and the refinement of the soloists, choruses, and orchestra are even more clearly in evidence. His attention to the emotional content of the piece gives the music a powerfully yearning warmth that, in spite of the large number of performers, feels intensely intimate. The engineers deserve much credit for creating such a carefully balanced aural environment, where details pop with amazing clarity and the sound is at the same time warm and enveloping. This is a release best experienced on a sound system that provides optimal separation and definition. Highly recommended; these are performances that should delight and dazzle fans of Baroque choral music.