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This beautifully performed, recorded and presented 2-CD set gathers together all the surviving motets by three of Bach’s ancestors: Johann (1604-73), Johann Christoph (1642-1703) and Johann Michael (1648-94). Johann Sebastian took great interest in his forbears’ output, particularly that of his second cousin Johann Christoph, whom Sebastian thought a profound composer. He collected and performed it at Leipzig, but much of it vanished during the second world war and has only relatively recently emerged in a Kiev archive. While the focus of disc 1 is on sober funeral motets, disc 2 is more varied in theme and mood, with motets for Passiontide, Advent and Christmas; all the music is bound by familiar German chorale melodies. Vox Luminis comprises around a dozen flexible voices. Accompanied mainly by continuo organ, this excellent vocal ensemble totally inhabits this repertoire, conveying its subtle beauty and richness of harmony. Not to be missed.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica

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