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This is an outstanding disc of outstanding music. Once thought to have been intended for a cappella choir, it is now believed that Bach himself may have performed the motets either unaccompanied or with instruments doubling the vocal parts and with basso continuo. Grete Pedersen chooses to vary her options on this CD, performing four of the works with the support of the excellent instrumentalists of Ensemble Allegria, and the remaining three with basso continuo. Her decision to perform Komm, Jesu, komm, Fürchte dich nicht and Der Geist hilft at A=415, which are presented first on the CD, while the other motets are given at A=440, remains unexplained. It doesn’t really cause any trouble as the choir’s sound is so beautifully blended and impeccably tuned, whatever the prevailing pitch. They get to the heart of these magnificent works in what feels a completely natural way, without any of the sense of over-interpretation that can detract. In addition to the standard six motets, Pedersen includes O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht (BWV 118), in which Ensemble Allegria’s oboes find an appropriately mournful yet sinuous tone.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica


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