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Bach: Motets / Kuijken, La Petite Bande


Release Date: 11/14/2006 
Label:  Challenge   Catalog #: 72160   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Sigiswald Kuijken
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Petite BandeLa Petite Bande Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players. 3050130.az_BACH_Motets_BWV_225.html

BACH Motets, BWV 225–229 Sigiswald Kuijken, cond; La Petite Bande (period instruments) CHALLENGE 72160 (Hybrid multichannel SACD: 56:34 & )


Sigiswald Kuijken recorded Bach’s motets in 1992, a version still Read more available from Accent and one that, unlike this new production, includes the suspect BWV 230. (“In my opinion it does not bring any additional value,” Kuijken writes in his liner notes, “perhaps even on the contrary.” Well, at least it would knock the disc timing just beyond the one-hour mark, so there’s value for you.) I haven’t heard Kuijken’s earlier version, but judging from what I can learn online, his tempos in this just-released SACD, recorded in 2003 by Challenge, are a bit faster than they had been a decade earlier. Honestly, I haven’t kept up with any recordings of the motets, because the old Harnoncourt version for Teldec, peculiar as it may sometimes be, has served me well for 25 years. It’s pointless to make direct comparisons between Kuijken and Harnoncourt because the latter seems to be out of print, unless you can still get a licensed copy from Musical Heritage Society. So let’s consider Kuijken on his own terms.


First, he employs one singer per part in these eight-part works, but the full acoustic makes the ensemble seem larger than it is without sacrificing clarity. Second, Kuijken includes an instrumental accompaniment of essentially one-to-a-part strings, plus oboes, bassoon, and organ/violone continuo. The instruments double the vocal parts and are properly subsidiary, serving only to bolster and enrich the choral work. Where you stand on these issues will determine whether you’ll want to investigate this release; the high quality of the performance will lure listeners who aren’t antagonistic to the size and deployment of Kuijken’s forces.


I said I wasn’t going to compare Kuijken to Harnoncourt, but let me just point out that Kuijken’s treatment of the beginning of “Komm, Jesu, komm” seemed a bit raw to me until I re-listened to Harnoncourt, whose Swedish choir is more clipped, accenting the fast passages more strongly. Against this, Kuijken is more dolorously legato, less emphatic, more measured for the most part. Now, there’s absolutely nothing anemic about this performance; it’s just that, compared to Harnoncourt, the musculature of the line is less sharply defined. It’s all a matter of context. The overall effect is warm, with the care devoted to tone and phrasing offsetting the potentially chilly avoidance of vibrato. And, yes, “Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied” does, indeed, make a joyful noise.


The surround recording, apparently made in a concert hall rather than a church, provides an entirely realistic and, again, warm sonic image of the performers without swamping them in reverberation. The verdict: given my limited shelf space, I’m ready to retire the old Harnoncourt disc and live happily with Kuijken’s for the next 25 years.


FANFARE: James Reel
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Works on This Recording

1.
Komm, Jesu, komm!, BWV 229 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Sigiswald Kuijken
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Petite Bande,  La Petite Bande Chorus
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1725-1749; Leipzig, Germany 
Language: German 
2.
Jesu, meine Freude, BWV 227 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Sigiswald Kuijken
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Petite Bande,  La Petite Bande Chorus
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1723; Leipzig, Germany 
Language: German 
3.
Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf, BWV 226 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Sigiswald Kuijken
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Petite Bande,  La Petite Bande Chorus
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1729; Leipzig, Germany 
Language: German 
4.
Fürchte dich nicht, ich bin bei dir, BWV 228 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Sigiswald Kuijken
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Petite Bande,  La Petite Bande Chorus
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1726; Leipzig, Germany 
Language: German 
5.
Singet Dem Hern, BWV 225 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Sigiswald Kuijken
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Petite Bande,  La Petite Bande Chorus
Language: German 

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