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Bach: Motets Bwv 225-231, Cantatas / John Eliot Gardiner


Release Date: 04/13/1993 
Label:  Erato   Catalog #: 45979   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque SoloistsMonteverdi Choir
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 41 Mins. 

Imported from : European Union   
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Although conductors invariably include the six great motets of Bach (BWV225-230) in recordings of these works, they seldom if ever seem to agree which if any other of Bach's motets to perform with them. John Eliot Gardiner very sensibly goes for the lot, adding Sei Lob und Preis mit Ehren (BWV231) and the little-known Der Gerechte kommt um which does not even have the benefit of a Schmieder number. As well as these, Gardiner also includes two short pieces which belong, at least nominally, to the cantata category, BWV50 and BWV118. In the case of the latter there is much justification for doing so for it's a single movement choral piece in motet style written for a funeral in about 1736 and revised for a performance around 1740. Here we have Read more what sounds to me like a compromise; in other words the horns, cornetto and sackbuts of the first version (possibly intended for an open air occasion), with the strings and woodwind of the second. This may be explained in the texts, none of which has been included with my review copy.

Cantata No. 50 is another matter altogether. Its single movement, a gigantic eight-strand fugal chorus of vast and complex architectural splendour, is almost certainly the lone survivor of a lost cantata. Stylistically, it is the odd man out in the present context though it was a happy thought to include it since, because of its peculiar isolation, it is often overlooked. In a recent review of BWV225-230 performed by the Stockholm Chamber Choir and the Vienna Concentus Musicus directed by Nikolaus Harnoncourt on Telefunken, I stressed the importance of understanding the symmetry of this vocally and intellectually demanding repertoire. I found Gardiner's interpretations thoughtful and often surprisingly introverted. There is a tenderness of expression perhaps missing in Harnoncourt's version, though I liked it; certainly Gardiner permits a wider range of dynamics within his choir which, like the Stockholm Bach Choir is made up of mixed male and female voices. Both conductors keep a lively rhythmic pulse throughout, and both performances are well phrased with Gardiner inclining more strongly towards legato. His reading of Jesu, meine Freude (BWV227) is marginally the more theatrical of the two. Generally speaking Harnoncourt prefers more elaborate instrumentation than Gardiner, where there is a choice, that is. Which of the two choirs you prefer will be a matter of personal taste. I found the serene and relaxed approach of the Monteverdi Choir effective, though at times, as for instance in Fiirchte dich nicht (BWV228), the sopranos sound strained. Intonation is just a little more dependable in the Harnoncourt set but then, on the other hand, it is almost devoid of the personal expression with which Gardiner suffuses his readings. So, as I say, it's a question of what sort of Bach you are looking for. One practical advantage this new Erato set has over the other is the inclusion of no fewer than four extra items, two of which I consider pretty indispensable in albums claiming to include all Bach's motets.

-- Gramophone [10/1981]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Komm, Jesu, komm!, BWV 229 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists,  Monteverdi Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1725-1749; Leipzig, Germany 
Language: German 
2.
O Jesu Christ, mein Lebens Licht, BWV 118 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists,  Monteverdi Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1723; Leipzig, Germany 
Language: German 
3.
Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf, BWV 226 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists,  Monteverdi Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1729; Leipzig, Germany 
Language: German 
4.
Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden, BWV 230 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists,  Monteverdi Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1723-1729; Leipzig, Germany 
Language: German 
5.
Sei Lob und Preis mit Ehren, BWV 231 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists,  Monteverdi Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: Leipzig, Germany 
Language: German 
6.
Der Gerechte kommt um [after Kuhnau] by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists,  Monteverdi Choir
Language: German 
Notes: This work is an arrangement, possibly by Bach, of a five-part motet "Tristis est anima mea" by Johann Kuhnau. 
7.
Fürchte dich nicht, ich bin bei dir, BWV 228 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists,  Monteverdi Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1726; Leipzig, Germany 
Language: German 
8.
Jesu, meine Freude, BWV 227 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists,  Monteverdi Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1723; Leipzig, Germany 
Language: German 
9.
Singet Dem Hern, BWV 225 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists,  Monteverdi Choir
Language: German 
10.
Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft, BWV 50 [fragment] by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists,  Monteverdi Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: ?1723; ?Leipzig, Germany 
Language: German 

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