After its successes in the field of German Baroque religious music, here VOX LUMINIS proposes the first complete recording of the motets by Johann Sebastian Bach's ancestors. These motets, most of which are written for double choir, blend the old tradition inherited from the polyphony of the Renaissance with expressive work inspired by the fashions of the madrigal. The chorale melodies that are quite frequently associated with these motets contribute this colour typical of the Lutheran liturgical repertoire.
Johann Bernhard Bach (1676-1749) is a somewhat ill-known member of the family, but known by his first cousin once removed, Johann Sebastian. A disciple of Pachelbel, he was in the service of the court of Eisenach and left us only instrumental music. His four Ouvertures for orchestra constitute the obvious link between French music of the Grand Siècle and the compositions that Johann Sebastian would write in Weimar and Cöthen. A missing link to be (re) discovered.
In many ways this is a special recording. It features first-desks from the Chicago Sym. playing two of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, and so far beyond the average Baroque ensemble are they that one yearns for the other four. Just to hear the amazing trumpet solos in Concerto no. 2 by the legendary Adolph Herseth repays the cost of the CD. But we also get James Levine doing double duty at the harpsichord in Concerto no. 5. One deficit from the rise of period performance is that non-specialists have been driven out. The days when an all-around musician like Levine or Leonard Bernstein performed Bach and Handel are more or less over, and their replacements, to be tactful, are not on such an exalted level of talent…. By Santa Fe Listener
“Here Claudio Abbado is gambolling among the Brandenburg Concertos in this straightforward TV-style concert film, recorded in the classic 19th-century opera house at Reggio Emilia during an Italian tour in spring 2007. The orchestra is at first glance a curious gathering, mixing 'Baroque' players such as violinist Giuliano Carmignola and harpsichordist Ottavio Dantone with 'modern' names such as trumpeter Reinhold Friedrich and 'un-Baroque' recorder-player Michala Petri. Furthermore, a look round the instruments reveals mostly modern models, some hybrids…” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
Without doubt, the selecction of ones favourite recording within the vast sellection of interpretations of Bach's Mass in B-Minor is a difficult task. I have sung this mass and heard more than ten different recordings of this "miracle of mighty mountain range in the planet of music". For me, Hengelbrocks recording is by far the best one: first of all, Hengelbrocks interpretation is very inspired, with convincing and sometimes innovative tempi, as for instance in the opening Kyrie which, for the first time, I could sense as a funeral march; second, the chorus is brillant, for me even better than the international "stars" as for example the Monteverdi Choir; third, the Soloists wich are members of the choir, integrate perfectly in the whole picture of this master piece; fourth, the balance engineers have done an exceptional work which allows you to hear every detail of the orchestra, soloists and choirs in perfect balance.
This recording is something of a throwback to earlier days of the original instrument movement. The Collegium Aureum was an early exponent of this, and the 1966 recording of the JS Bach shows how this movement has evolved. Wonderful trumpets, struggling with the tessitura and tuning, and the (probably) part-time early music oboists, point up the most obvious difference. Early music was a labor of love in the 1960's, not a full time job. Which make me wonder if today's "authentic" performances aren't too clean, and too polished. How much rehearsal time did the "old wig" get, anyway, especially with works that were being given their premiere performances? Charles Rosen said that a truly authentic performance is impossible, you're either too early or too late.