Review by: David Hurwitz
Artistic Quality: 10
Sound Quality: 10
Bach’s motets have been very lucky on disc. This latest version from Masaaki Suzuki and the Bach Collegium Japan is as good as it gets. In addition to the canonic six pieces, BWV 225-230, we also get the much more rarely heard Ich lasse dich nicht BWV Anh. 159, and O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht BWV 118. This brings the playing time of the disc up to more than 75 minutes, and may well prove important to Bach collectors. The singing is uniformly excellent, the small choir and soloists seemingly perfectly scaled to give the more complex pieces, Jesu, meine Freude in particular, plenty of contrast without any cost of contrapuntal clarity.
In the works with double choir, Suzuki has decided to double the first choir with strings, the second with winds, an excellent choice. In the other works he mixes winds and strings, always with an ear to giving each voice its own vivid identity. He doesn’t dispute the authenticity of the brief BWV 230 (Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden), and the performance has great spirit and rhythmic verve. Several of these works (Fürchte dich nicht BWV 228, for example) were written for funerals, but however solemn the occasion or the mood, the music always soars. BIS’s SACD sonics are typically marvelous. Just great! [3/23/2010]
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Recording Details:Reference Recording: This One, RIAS-Kammerchor (Harmonia Mundi), Netherlands Chamber Choir (Channel Classics)
J.S. BACH - Motets BWV 225-230; Ich lasse dich nicht, du segnest mich denn (BWV Anh. 159); O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht (BWV 118, second version)