Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Te Deum

1. Herr Gott, Dich Loben Wir (Te Deum), BWV 725
2. Liebster Jesu, Wir Sind Hier, BWV 731
3. fantasia sopra: christ lag in todesbanden manualiter, BWV 695
4. Wer Nur Den Lieben Gott Lasst Walten manualiter, BWV 690
5. Nun Freut Euch, Lieben Christen G'mein, BWV 734
6. Vater Unser In Himmelreich, BWV 737
7. Valet Will Ich Dir Geben, Choralis In Pedale, BWV 736
8. Fuga Sopra: Durch Adams Fall Ist Ganz Verderbt, BWV 705
9. Fantasia Sopra: Jesu, Meine Freude, BWV 713.
10. Wir Glauben All An Einen Gott, BWV 765
11. Herr Christ, Der Einig Gottes, BWV Anh 55
12. Aus Tiefer Not Schrei' Ich Zu Dir, BWV 686
André Isoir, organ
Ensemble Metamorphoses
Ensemble Coeli
Ensemble Terra
Rec: 2000, Eglise Saint-Thomas d’Aquin, Paris.
CALLIOPE 9722 [54.53]

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Bach’s chorale Herr Gott, dich loben wir, BWV 725, has come down to us in a manuscript copy made by his first biographer, Forkel. This chorale is the Lutheran version of the Latin Te Deum. Its inclusion of the incipit of each of the verses raises the possibility that it might have been intended for a choir as well as for the organ. A collection of chorales made by C. P. E. Bach around 1785 includes a Te Deum in the same key as this organ chorale.

André Isoir, performer of one of the finest complete recordings of Bach’s organ works, superimposed the voices over the organ score, leading to the result heard here in the first track on this disc. The other tracks are also combinations of vocal works and organ chorales – sometimes the vocal works are the same chorale, and sometimes they are different works (chorales with the same name but different BWV numbers). "The general construction is based on the principle of alternation of highly accomplished instrumental pieces with their homophonic four-part vocal counterparts, as they appear in certain cantatas, for example…"

Basically, this recording is a "creation" of new Bach works from old ones. As an experiment, one could easily call it pure speculation, yet the result is quite effective. With a deeply meditative liturgical atmosphere, this disc shows very well the relationship between organ chorales and vocal works. The first track, the Te Deum, contains some beautiful vocal textures within a very mellow, rich atmosphere. This track contains a superimposition of voices over the organ, as do two others. But most of the recording is made up of sets of homophonic chorales in two or three parts, with voices singing in one section and the organ playing in another.

Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g’mein, is an organ work with arabesques of melodies in the higher end of the organ. When the vocal section comes in it sounds more like a motet or a hymn. There is not, therefore, always a thematic relation between the various sections; this is textual more than musical.

Yet the recording works quite well. Isoir’s playing is brilliant, as in his other Bach recordings. He uses very simple registrations, focusing more on the melodies of the chorales than the force of the instrument (with the exception of the powerful final track, the De Profundis). The vocal performances are also fine, with excellent balance and texture from the various ensembles.

Here is a unique recording of music that Bach never wrote. The combination of organ chorales and vocal sections works quite well. The atmosphere of the disc is very compelling, and the performances excellent. With a very mellow, spiritual feeling, this disc is very satisfying, and is a welcome addition to any collection of Bach’s sacred music.

Kirk McElhearn

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