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Dip Your Ears, No. 133 (Bach Motets)

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J.S.Bach, Motets
J.E.Gardiner / Monteverdi Choir
SDG 716

John Eliot Gardiner’s Bach recordings on his label, Soli Deo Gloria, are gorgeous in every way. The packaging is a joy to behold; the artwork, the notes, the choice of fonts… everything exudes thoughtfulness. The same is true for their live performances—here the six Motets of Bach which not only Gardiner considers among the cantor’s “most perfect… most hypnotic… works”. With minimal continuo accompaniment, the Monteverdi Choir (its second recording) excels in a felt, taciturn way. But the competition is tough: The Nederlands Kamerkoor’s even purer, voice-focused rendering (Channel), for example, the persuasive, determined Suzuki (BIS) shines brighter, or Sigiswald Kuijken’s riveting 20-year-old account (Accent) with added instrumental texture easily brave Gardiner’s challenge.

Samples from each of the six Motets below the break:

Bach, "Komm, Jesu, komm" BWV 229 (excerpt),
Sigiswald Kuijken, La Petite Bande, Accent 10087

Bach, "Fürchte dich nicht, ich bin bei dir" BWV 228 (excerpt),
John Eliot Gardiner, Monteverdi Choir, SDG 716

Bach, "Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden" BWV 230 (excerpt),
Peter Dijkstra, Nederlands Kamerkoor, Channel SACD 27108

Bach, "Der Geist hilft unsrer Schwachheit auf" BWV 226 (excerpt),
Philippe Herreweghe, Collegium Vocale, Harmonia Mundi 901231

Bach, "Jesu, meine Freude" BWV 227 (excerpt),
Johannes Hiemetsberger, Chorus sine nomine, Gramola 98875

Bach, "Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied" BWV 225 (excerpt)
Masaaki Suzuki, Bach Collegium Japan, BIS SACD 1841

See also: Briefly Noted: More Bach Motets