J.S.Bach, Alles Mit Gott...,
J.E.Gardiner / E.B.S., Monteverdi Choir
As other critics have already said, it is a charming little thing - indeed, that phrase so immediately comes to mind that those who hear it and describe it thus are exempt from the charge of plagiarism. It is genuinely lovely and wonderful to hear - as is most or indeed all Bach. I could also say that it is wonderful to discover 'new music' composed by Bach - but that would be disingenuous, given that very few people already have exhausted the Bach œuvre as extant prior to last June. There are less expensive ways to listen to four minutes of novel Bach, although the listening participation is exciting... hearing sounds of Bach that have not been heard by anyone else for almost 300 years.
Gardiner plays through the ode three times, including the first, last (12th), and third stanzas. Soprano Elin Manahan Thomas sings her part with a very clear voice - a slim golden shimmer that arches above the music. It's on the harder side with a strong edge, and the application is refreshingly unmannered. She is accompanied by two violins and one viola, cello and lute each; Silas John Standage plays the organ.
What follows, after these 12 minutes, are excerpts from the hitherto unreleased Cantata Pilgrimage recordings. They only assure me of what I knew already, that this is a cycle eminently worth following for its natural, honest, and thoroughly musical approach to these cantatas. Little to nothing is stylized, there are no glaring weaknesses among the soloists, and the playing is beyond reproach and the chorus exquisite. Essentially a luxurious sampler of the cycle, this CD might have been priced more moderately than the rather steep $22, but for the duration of this disc (about one hour) no listener would likely think about the cost.