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Bach Family Motets / Timothy Brown


Release Date: 06/02/2009 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 93801   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johann Ludwig BachJohann Christoph BachJohann BachJohann Michael Bach
Performer:  Keri DexterHelen GoughElizabeth Kenny
Conductor:  Timothy Brown
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Clare College Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

‘I don’t know if you are aware of the fact that J.S. Bach had between twenty and thirty children; and I guess that goes for Mrs.Bach too’.

The immortal words of Victor Borge, but this Regis issue serves to remind us that the Bachs were no mere family but a veritable musical dynasty. None of the composers represented here was a child of the great J.S., however. They are, briefly, Johann Bach, J.S.’s great uncle, town musician in Erfurt; Johann Christoph Bach, a cousin of J.S. who was based in Arnstadt and later in Eisenach; Johann Michael, another cousin who was also J.S.’s father-in-law; and finally a third cousin, Johann Ludwig, who spent most of his life as a court musician in Meiningen.

There is some very
Read more fine music on this disc, and it receives performances from Brown and the Clare College Choir which do it full justice. The opening J.C. Bach motet, Lieber Herr Gott, is a good example. A short piece (4:05), it nevertheless contains much that is of interest both rhythmically and harmonically, and builds to a satisfyingly affirmative conclusion.

I found, though, the next track, the motet Unser Leben ist ein Schatten (Our life is a shadow) by Johann Bach, the earliest composer on the disc, to be the most interesting piece, with its intriguingly furtive opening passage. The ‘shadowy’ quality is brilliantly evoked with flitting duets in the solo voices and sudden pauses. The accompaniment is most discreet – just a theorbo (bass lute) and string bass, but quite adequate to support the very delicate singing. I particularly appreciated the great sense of colour in the vocal writing, though I’m not sure the abrupt ending actually works.

Johann Michael is represented by three pieces, and Herr, du lässest mich erfahren will be of great interest to those who already know, for example, the J.S. Bach motet Singet dem Herrn. Johann Michael allows a chorale melody to emerge, whose sturdiness is contrasted with more florid solo writing, as Johann Sebastian was to do in the later work.

There are just two pieces here by Johann Ludwig. Unserer Trübsal begins with a slow section in which the contrite opening phrase is repeated over and over to great expressive effect. The quick middle section contains vocal writing of considerable athleticism, a quality which recurs in the dancing finale of Das ist meine Freude.

The motets are performed by a group of about twelve voices. This sounds like a very small number, especially given the amount of double choir music here; but it works superbly, mainly because the voices are so good and so well matched. The singing is ‘well-mannered’, but certainly not bloodless, and the instrumental support, though inconspicuous, is always stylish. A fine issue.

-- Gwyn Parry-Jones, MusicWeb International
reviewing these performances previously reissued as Regis 1045
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Works on This Recording

1.
Das ist meine Freude by Johann Ludwig Bach
Performer:  Keri Dexter (Organ)
Conductor:  Timothy Brown
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Clare College Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 45 Secs. 
2.
Unsere Trübsal by Johann Ludwig Bach
Performer:  Keri Dexter (Organ)
Conductor:  Timothy Brown
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Clare College Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 34 Secs. 
3.
Lieber Herr Gott, wecke uns auf by Johann Christoph Bach
Performer:  Helen Gough (Bass Violin), Elizabeth Kenny (Theorbo), Keri Dexter (Organ)
Conductor:  Timothy Brown
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Clare College Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
Length: 3 Minutes 59 Secs. 
4.
Unser Leben ist ein Schatten by Johann Bach
Performer:  Elizabeth Kenny (Theorbo), Keri Dexter (Organ), Helen Gough (Bass Violin)
Conductor:  Timothy Brown
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Clare College Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
Length: 7 Minutes 7 Secs. 
5.
Herr, du lässest mich erfahren by Johann Michael Bach
Performer:  Elizabeth Kenny (Theorbo), Helen Gough (Bass Violin), Keri Dexter (Organ)
Conductor:  Timothy Brown
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Clare College Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 14 Secs. 
6.
Nun hab'ich überwunden by Johann Michael Bach
Performer:  Keri Dexter (Organ)
Conductor:  Timothy Brown
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Clare College Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
Length: 2 Minutes 41 Secs. 
7.
Es ist nun aus mit meinem Leben by Johann Christoph Bach
Performer:  Keri Dexter (Organ)
Conductor:  Timothy Brown
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Clare College Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1691; Eisenach, Germany 
Length: 6 Minutes 4 Secs. 
8.
Der Gerechte, ob er Gleich zu zeitlich stirbt by Johann Christoph Bach
Performer:  Keri Dexter (Organ)
Conductor:  Timothy Brown
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Clare College Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
Length: 5 Minutes 9 Secs. 
9.
Ich lasse dich nicht by Johann Christoph Bach
Performer:  Keri Dexter (Organ)
Conductor:  Timothy Brown
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Clare College Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
Length: 5 Minutes 25 Secs. 
10.
Fürchte dich nicht by Johann Christoph Bach
Performer:  Keri Dexter (Organ)
Conductor:  Timothy Brown
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Clare College Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 42 Secs. 
11.
Sei, lieber Tag willkommen by Johann Michael Bach
Performer:  Keri Dexter (Organ)
Conductor:  Timothy Brown
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Clare College Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 52 Secs. 

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