Bach: Magnificat

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Mirare
WORKS: Magnificat, BWV 243; Fuga Sopra il Magnificat, BWV 733; Missa, BWV 235; Präludium und Fuga in G, BWV 541
PERFORMER: Maria Keohane, Anna Zander, Carlos Mena (soprano), Hans-Jörg Mammel, Stephan MacLeod (tenor), Francis Jacob (organ); Ricercar Consort/Philippe Pierlot

Philippe Pierlot – French viola da gamba virtuoso and now, ever-increasingly, conductor – is proving himself a thoughtful and effective Bach interpreter. Following three highly successful discs of Bach’s cantatas on this label, Pierlot now addresses the composer’s celebrated D major setting of the Magnificat and one of the five Missae, or short masses consisting only of a Kyrie and Gloria. Included with the CD is a DVD featuring the Magnificat in a film by Pierre-Hubert Martin.
Pierlot subscribes to the one-voice-to-a-part approach favoured by Sigiswald Kuijken (Accent), Eric Milnes (Atma) and some others. It works very convincingly in Bach’s early cantatas, as Pierlot has already demonstrated both in performance and in recordings. By and large it comes over well here, too, not least because the vocalists are almost uniformly appealing both singly and in ensemble. Pierlot’s tempos are well-judged, and he rarely if ever pushes them beyond the possibilities of natural declamation. He is also susceptible to the infinite expressive nuances in the music.
Thus the ‘Fecit potentiam tutti’ of the Magnificat springs to life exuberantly, offering a contrast with its neighbouring ‘Et misericordia’. I prefer Andrew Parrott’s more dancelike metre in the last-mentioned movement, but Pierlot’s is a rewarding issue enhanced by the inclusion of the organ Prelude and Fugue in G major, BWV 541, and the Fuga sopra il Magnificat, BWV 733, played by Francis Jacob on an instrument modelled after an 18th-century organ from Bach’s time. Nicholas Anderson