ALBUM TITLE: JS Bach
WORKS: Motets: Komm, Jesu, komm, BWV 229; Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, BWV 225; Ich lasse dich nicht, BWV anh. 159; Der Geist hilft, BWV 226; Jesu, meine Freude, BWV 227; Fürchte dich nicht, BWV 228; Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden, BWV 230
PERFORMER: Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, Fifth Avenue, New York/John Scott; Anne Trout (violone), Katherine Rietman (cello), Frederick Teardo, Benjamin Sheen, Stephen Buzard (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: RES 10152
John Scott, formerly director of music at St Paul’s Cathedral, has been based at Saint Thomas, Fifth Avenue for more than a decade. No stranger to generous acoustics, he makes some surprising choices in this disc, sometimes using the acoustic to glorious rhetorical effect, sometimes ignoring its spaciousness in lusty, even reckless, tempos. The tone of the New York trebles is sweet and healthy. Fans of the cathedral choir sound will relish an old-fashioned, large forces performance with organ, cello and violone continuo. Whether any pre-pubescent singer can execute the melismatic figures as confidently as an adult soprano is another matter.
The over-lapping iterations of ‘Singet! Singet!’ in Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied (BWV 225) are brilliantly energised but the last few pages of the first section are a breathless muddle. ‘Wie sich ein Vater erbarmet’ showcases the uncannily beautiful voice of chorister Richard Pittsinger. The choir is on safer ground in a slowish Komm, Jesu, komm (BWV 229) and bouncy Der Geist hilft (BWV 226), and at its finest in Ich lasse dich nicht (BWV Anh. 159). The surprise hit is Fürchte dich nicht (BWV 228), where the treble sound provides a delicious contrast to the chromatic figures of the adult voices. Scott’s shaping of the chorales in Jesu, meine Freude (BWV 227) is suave. Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden (BWV 230) trips merrily along regardless of authorship issues, but I miss the clarity and expressive range afforded by smaller ensembles. Anna Picard