J.S. Bach: Motets

J.S. Bach: Motets

by Edward Higginbottom


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J.S. Bach: Motets

The grueling wars over the proper historical performance of Bach's motets seem to have given way to a grudging acceptance that justification for most methods can be found in documents of Bach's time, and that includes strictly old-school performances like this men-and-boys item from the New College Choir of Oxford under Edward Higginbottom, accompanied only by an organ continuo that stays very far in the background and seems to be there primarily to keep the young choristers on pitch. It's a bit unusual to hear the motets done this way, but one theorist noted (disapprovingly) that such performances were common in the middle of the 17th century. At any rate, what matters most is that performances of any kind clarify the dense textures of these works, which combine the deep expressiveness of Bach's religious language with polyphonic complexity that can seem unrelenting if the lines start to run together. Higginbottom gets a warm, lyrical sound out of the choir's boy sopranos that doesn't sound much like any other group, but each line nevertheless emerges clearly from the texture, even with a choir that's larger than the norm. The choir does not have the ripping power of Germanic all-adult groups, but a joyous text like that of "Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, BWV 225" (sample track 19), comes through with a vigor rare in recordings with child singers. This is a recording that plainly reflects a great deal of work, done without losing sight of musical goals, and the singers, apparently recorded on home ground at New College (this is not expressly stated but appears to be true from one of the booklet photos), receive fine engineering support from Novum.

Product Details

Release Date: 08/30/2011
Label: Nosag Records
UPC: 0609465217864
catalogNumber: 1381


  1. Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, motet for chorus, BWV 225 (BC C1)
  2. Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf, motet for double chorus, winds, strings & continuo, BWV 226 (BC C2)
  3. Fürchte dich nicht, ich bin bei dir, motet for double chorus, BWV 228 (BC C4)
  4. Komm, Jesu, komm, motet for chorus & continuo, BWV 229 (BC C3)
  5. Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden, motet for chorus & organ, BWV 230 (BC C6)
  6. Jesu, meine Freude, motet for 5-part chorus, BWV 227 (BC C5)

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