BACH: Motets BWV 225-230 – Siebe Henstra, harpsichord/ Lucia Swarts, cello/ Netherlands Chamber Choir/ Peter Dijkstra, conductor – Channel Classics

by | Jun 14, 2008 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

BACH: Motets BWV 225-230 – Siebe Henstra, harpsichord/ Lucia Swarts, cello/ Netherlands Chamber Choir/ Peter Dijkstra, conductor – Channel Classics Multichannel SACD CCS SA 27108, 67:04 ***** [Distr. by Harmonia mundi]:

To this day we still don’t know all of the information about the original settings of the Bach motets, nor, in the case of at least one of them (BWV 230), whether it is by Bach at all. There has been no end of speculation about the reasons for their composition, and even more about how to perform them. There is no likelihood they were ever performed together, but this is always how they are recorded, with a few exceptions. Consequently there are no dearth of recordings with full instrumental ensemble and unaccompanied voices. Peter Dijkstra has chosen a middle road, opting for a continuo-only approach, and is quite vehement in the notes in his protest against playing these works from a predominantly instrumental standpoint, meaning, more often than not, played too fast.

He has a point. Listening to these gorgeous, smooth as silk accounts in marvelous surround DSD, one cannot but be impressed by the beauties of the singing line gently and unobtrusively underpinned by the gentlest of continuo. It makes the 1986 reading of Philippe Herreweghe (with instruments) sound positively rough-road in comparison, though that version is still one of the finest in the catalog.

This is now the best-sounding rendition of these works we have, Channel Classics being one of the most astute purveyors of SACDs out there. The voices display a warmth and burnished resonance that might just buck the Bach trend these days, but certainly does his music a favor far less achieved. Outstanding!

— Steven Ritter
 

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