Johann, JC & JM Bach

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COMPOSERS: JC & JM Bach,Johann
LABELS: Ricercar
ALBUM TITLE: Johann, JC & JM Bach
WORKS: Motets
PERFORMER: Vox Luminis; Scorpio Collectief/ Lionel Meunier
CATALOGUE NO: RIC 347

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Lionel Meunier’s recording of funeral, Passiontide and Christmas motets by Johann Bach, Johann Christoph Bach and Johann Michael Bach with Vox Luminis is a realisation of the ancestral research undertaken by Johann Sebastian Bach in his 50th year. Here we have works that show the influence of Venetian style (Johann’s dramatic double-choir setting of Sei nun wieder zufrieden meine Seele), works that create startling dialogues between chorale melodies and original material (Johann Michael’s Halt, was du hast), and works that edge towards the style of JS Bach’s own motets (Johann Christoph’s Unsers Herzens Freude hat ein Ende). Many of them are recorded here for the first time. Almost all are scrupulously well sung by an octet of well-balanced voices to a simple organ continuo.

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The long-contested attribution of Ich lasse dich nicht, said by some to have been written by JS Bach and by others to have been composed by Johann Christoph, has new resonance in this context. It is also given an exemplary performance, with minute attention to the text. Only one motet features an instrumental choir (the cornet and sackbutts of Scorpio Collectief), Johann Michael’s Das Blut Jesu Christi. Vox Luminis’s blend is marked by a pleasing astringency in the alto line, and supple singing from the sopranos and baritones, Meunier among them. In the soloistic flourishes of Johann Christoph’s extended motet, Merk auf, mein Herz, that perfection unravels. It’s a 15-minute blip in over two hours of outstanding musicality and serious scholarship. Anna Picard