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4.7 out of 5 stars17
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 8 May 2012
There are many nice recordings of the Bach motets, and it would be a brave (wo)man who would say definitively that one or other was the best (where "best" generally means "I like this one better than those ones"). This is Gardiner's second time, I think (he did them years ago for Erato). As usual with Gardiner, these are captured in live performance (does he anaesthesise the audience?). They are very nice performances, the stars of the show being, as usual, the Monteverdis, who sing absolutely gorgeously. The solo parts are sung by members of the Monteverdi Choir, so they don't really stand out as stars with highlighting, but somehow this suits the character of the music - and this would have been the way that Bach himself would have performed them. And of course, it is Bach, with all the incredible genius of the man. The quality of the recording is excellent. Another winner for SDG.
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This is a terrific recording of Bach's six motets. There have been many fine performances in the past, but this matches the best, I'd say.

John Eliot Gardiner and his Monteverdi Choir have made Bach's music the centre of their repertoire for may years now and they have an exceptional insight into and understanding of these works as a result. It shows here in the great variety between motets and the widely differing but always appropriate approach Gardiner takes to each movement. The opening of Komm, Jesu, Komm, for example, is tenderly yearning, while the opening of Singet dem Herrn is performed with a restrained but intense, complex and incredibly precise rhythmic pulse. It is exemplary Bach singing to my ears.

The recording (of a live performance but with no audience audible anywhere on the disc) is excellent and the notes very good. I don't think you can do better than this for a performance of the motets; however much I love my old Hilliard Ensemble and Ton Koopman recordings, this is the one I think I would keep above all others. Very warmly recommended.
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on 2 August 2012
I have loved Bach for years but did not know his motets until a rave review in 'Gramophone' directed me to this new recording. Bach's sound-world is not to everyone's taste. Some find it austere when set against the brilliant classicism of Mozart, pulsating inspiration of Beethoven, sublime lyricism of Schuber or the monumental romanticism of Mahler. But, like Schubert, Bach is the quintessence of 'less is more' and that is no better illustrated than in this wonderful recording.

Magnificent singing reveals all the glories of Bach. Imbued with the essential Bach - devotion to his God, beautiful tunes, wonderful harmonies - Eliot Gardiner's life-long service to the great composer is once again enhanced by this tremendous addition to his discography. Do not miss it!
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on 26 April 2016
I usually enjoy recordings by the Monteverdi choir very much but on this occasion I was disappointed. Whilst the choir appears to be on fine form the recording itself has exaggerated the sibilant sounds to such an extent that the vocal hisses are frequently overwhelming. This is a common difficulty with recording choral music that the Monteverdi Choir usually seem to escape but on this occasion it seems to have been overlooked. The result is sometimes merely irritating but in pieces such as Der Geist hilf unser Schwachheit auf and bits of Jesu, meine Freude the choir appear to have been replaced by a family of angry snakes which has completely ruined the recorded performance.
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on 15 November 2013
What marvellous music and Gardiner's sprightly tempos make it most lively. A real treat for lovers of both Bach and great music.
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on 2 September 2012
I impulse bought this cd and love it, it makes Bach sound mint fresh brand new, makes you feel as if your brain has been taken out, washed in clean cool water, and put back in again!
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on 2 February 2015
I have have always loved the music of Bach, and this is a powerful and accurate rendition of very beautiful music,
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on 26 June 2014
Though a long term fan of the Monteverdi Choir, it never ceases to amaze me how damned good they are. And considering this recording was live, good just doesn't say it all. In fact, many superlatives don't do this choir justice. The best way to make one's own mind up is to sample it for real. With this kind of performance a 6th star is needed!
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I bought this because of a newspaper review and I put it on this morning whilst doing revision for an Open University exam. It is simply beautiful! A brilliant recording and wonderful singing make this very special. I am a fan of Gardiner anyway, especially in this type of music, and he rarely disappoints.

So if you like choral music you won't find a better new release than this. Buy it!

PS Now a few months later and listening to it on my new hifi and it is, if that's possible, even better. A stunning CD. I'd give it 6 stars if I could!
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on 13 March 2015
I bought a used copy and cannot understand why the previous owner could bear to part with it. Truly beautiful and inspiring music, wonderfully performed and excellently introduced by John Eliot Gardener's helpful and enthusiastic introduction.
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