MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

CD: Crotchet


Bachs Schüler - Motets
Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach (1732-1795) Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Wake, o wake and hear the voices) (c.1780) [15:59]
Johann Philipp Kirnberger (1721-1783) An den Flüssen Babylons (By the waters of Babylon) [3:40]
Johann Friedrich Doles (1715-1797) Wer bin ich, Herr? (Who am I, O Lord?)* [7:38]
Gottfried August Homilius (1714-1785) Die Elenden sollen essen (All the starving shall be nourished)* [2:38]
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788) Bitten -17 Gott, deine Güte reicht so weit (O God, thy goodness stretches so far) [4:02]
Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713-1780) Erforsche mich, Gott (Search me, O God) [6:01]
Johann Christoph Altnickol (1719-1759) Befiehl du deine Wege (Commit thou all that grieves thee) [19:18]
Vocal Concert Dresden; Dresdner Instrumental-Concert/Peter Kopp
rec. Lukaskirche, Dresden, 16-19 November, 2007. DDD.
Texts in German with English and French translations
* World premiere recordings.
CARUS 83.263 [59:33]
Experience Classicsonline

Some record companies seem to have an unlimited instinct for discovering gaps in the discography and plugging them. Carus is certainly one of these. Now that the predecessors of Bach have been reasonably well covered (see my review of the Hyperion Helios reissue of pre-Bach alto cantatas on CDH55230) they have turned their attention to motets by JSB’s pupils, turning in two world premiere recordings in the process.
It was my mistaken understanding that the motet form had been revived more or less for the last time by Bach, so I am surprised to discover these works by his pupils, several of whom were mere names to me before coming to this recording. Johann Friedrich Doles is unknown to the Oxford Companion to Music, though he does merit an entry in the Concise Grove, where he is credited with composing 35 motets. It was even more of a surprise to find myself enjoying most of the music on this CD more than Bach’s own motets: I’m sure the fault is mine, but I find them much less attractive than his cantatas.
The opening work, by JSB’s fifth son, the so-called Bückeburg Bach, is both livelier and more complex than his father’s better-known setting of these words in his Advent Cantata, No.140, though the original setting of Nicolai’s hymn is still clearly to be heard. This exhortation to wake, Wachet auf, makes an appropriate opening to summon our attention and it receives an appropriately lively performance. The Gloria sei dir gesungen section (track 3) moves the music onto a higher plane – the praise is stately rather than excited – with quotations in this section of JSB’s own setting, the whole ending with an elegant fugue, and the performance again matches the mood of the music exactly.
Kirnberger’s setting of An den Flüssen Babylons (By the waters of Babylon we sat and wept) is a setting of a much more serious text and it receives a serious setting, again well conveyed in the performance. I have recently been listening to the settings of this psalm which William Byrd shared with several of his continental fellow composers, notably Philippe de Monte. Those settings offer coded indications of the suffering of the Roman Catholic minority in England in Byrd’s time and are, thus, particularly intense. Kirnberger’s setting is less intense, though affective in the manner of much of the Passion music of this period, with such directions as ‘A profound melancholy’ and ‘Inner vexation of the soul’.
Doles inherited JSB’s post as Thomaskantor and held it for a long period. His setting of Wer bin ich, Herr, a setting of two verses of poetry typical of the pietist movement, together with the two Biblical verses which inspired them, is an accomplished work with a particularly effective solo tenor part; it demonstrates the more than workmanlike quality of his music which endeared Doles to the burghers of Leipzig for so long. The hesitant music of the opening very aptly matches the question Who am I? and the performers, rightly, don’t try to smooth out this hesitancy.
The rediscovery of the music of Gottfried Homilius has become something of a Carus speciality in the last couple of years, with excellent recordings of several of his major works. The short motet Die Elenden sollen essen is not one of these but it is attractive enough – feeling without sentimentality, as the notes put it – and it receives an appropriately light-toned performance, its first appearance on record. It isn’t certain that Homilius was actually one of JSB’s students, but the inclusion of this piece offers a brief reminder of the value of his music and reminds me to catch up with his longer works which Carus have recorded.
CPE Bach is quite deliberately placed at the heart of the programme. The best-known and most talented of JSB’s sons, he shone in a number of genres, though his vocal and choral music is now less well known than his orchestral compositions. On the basis of this prayer, Gott, deine Güte reicht so weit, he thoroughly deserved the high reputation which he had among his contemporaries; as the notes point out, ‘Bach’ in the second half of the 18th century meant CPE rather than JSB. Whereas much of his orchestral music looks forward to the newer forms, this motet, a setting of the words of the Enlightenment poet Christian Gellert, harks back more to the past.
Krebs, too, is as well known today for his orchestral music but his Erforsche mich, Gott, is an attractive work and, like JCF’s Wachet auf, pays what the notes aptly describe as formal homage to his teacher in the closing chorale.
The longest work here, Altnickol’s Befiehl du deine Wege, opens and closes with the clearest tribute to JSB, a clear echo of the tune which pervades Bach’s music from the Christmas Cantata to the St Matthew Passion, where it sets the words O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden, ‘O sacred Head, sore wounded’. The music was not JSB’s own composition but it was then and is now indelibly associated with him. Otherwise, the work is modelled on Bach’s motet Jesu, meine Freude, though without obvious plagiarism. The notes single out Verse 10 (track 18) but I also found Verse 8 (track 16) particularly attractive music – and especially effectively sung.
Is this recording of purely academic interest? It certainly does fit that description, of course, and this may well be the main reason why one would wish to buy it. The notes by Christoph Kopp (or Koop? Both spellings occur in the booklet) claim that it is music valid for all time and, while I wouldn’t demur, I would certainly advise those who don’t yet know the music of Johann Sebastian thoroughly – and who does know it thoroughly enough – to make that their priority. After all, as Mr Organ Morgan in Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood so accurately observes, the greatest of all composers was “Johann Sebastian mighty Bach – and afterwards”, as he hastily adds, “Palestrina”. Otherwise the quality of performance and recording – both instinctively right and neither ever less than thoroughly competent – would have deserved the ‘thumbs up’ accolade.
The translations which I have listed after the title of each work are those given by Carus themselves in the booklet; several are not literal translations but designed to aid recognition by those who may have sung these works in an English version. The booklet is, as usual with Carus, both scholarly and helpful to the unscholarly. The attractive cover depicts the Thomaskirche and –schule in 1749.
Brian Wilson

see also review by Jonathan Woolf



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.