Pachelbel: Motet & Cantata ‘Christ lag in Todesbanden’; Cantata & Partita ‘Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan’; Motet & Cantata ‘Jauchzet dem Herrn’; Motet: Gott ist unser Zuversicht etc

COMPOSERS: Pachelbel
LABELS: Ricercar
ALBUM TITLE: Pachelbel
WORKS: Motet & Cantata ‘Christ lag in Todesbanden’; Cantata & Partita ‘Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan’; Motet & Cantata ‘Jauchzet dem Herrn’; Motet: Gott ist unser Zuversicht etc
PERFORMER: Caire Lefilliâtre (soprano),Hans Jörg Mammel (tenor); Namur Chamber Choir; Les Agrémens/Jean Tubéry; David van Bouwel (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: RIC 255
Ricercar has been revealing JS Bach’s lesser-known predecessors for nearly 20 years. Pachelbel is particularly closely connected – an intimate friend of Bach’s father, godfather to his sister, and contributor to an organ manuscript transcribed by the young Bach. Pachelbel was master of the technique of organ choral variations; a most attractive Partita on ‘Was Gott tut’ includes floridly decorated melody, some bizarrely chromatic counterpoint and a dancing gigue. David van Bouwel plays it on a fine new instrument by Thomas in Gedinne, Belgium. Pachelbel’s sacred vocal music is less familiar. Two double-choir motets are recorded over a wide stereo spectrum, throwing sound from side to side. Texts invite ‘madrigalian’ setting, highlighting detail, such as bounding rhythms on ‘Jauchzet’ (‘rejoice’) and reflective contemplation of the ‘sheep of his pasture’. The overall mood is a touch introspective, though more uninhibited in ‘God is our hope and strength’, driven by the imagery of earthquake and storm, coloured by cornets doubling upper voices. Strings similarly produce a rattling concitato (rapid-fire semiquavers) in the Easter cantata ‘Christ lag in Todesbanden’ reflecting Christ’s victory in the battle of life and death. So much sustained fast music raises the question of choice of tempo; one becomes aware after a time of a constant standard allegro, hypnotic for a while, but ultimately somewhat predictable. This timely disc reveals Pachelbel not simply as a strong influence on Bach but as a fine composer in his own right.

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