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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685 – 1750)
Komm, Jesu, komm (Motet for eight part double choir BWV 229) [8:21] Sven-David SANDSTRÖM (b. 1942)
Jesu, meine Freude (Motet for six- to twelve-part choir) [15:39] Johann Sebastian BACH
Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf (Motet for eight-part double choir
BWV 226) [7:19] Sven-David SANDSTRÖM
Fürchte dich nicht, ich bin bei dir (Motet for six - to twelve-part choir) [9:56] Johann Sebastian BACH
Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden (Motet for four-part choir BWV 230) [5:58] Sven-David SANDSTRÖM
Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied (Motet for eight – to sixteen-part double
Kammerchor Hannover, La Festa Musicale/Stephan Doormann
rec. 2017, Stephansstift Hannover
Sung texts with English translations enclosed RONDEAUROP6152 [59:51]
Three years ago I reviewed the previous disc where Johann Sebastian Bach and Sven-David Sandström’s Motets with settings of the same texts were presented. Or, more correctly: there were three motets by each of them but none with the same texts. Here come the other three by each of them, and with both discs available one can make deep-probing comparisons. I haven’t done that for very obvious reasons. Sandström says in the liner notes: “You forget about Bach. I want to avoid his music as much as I can.” And Jan-Geerth Wolff, the author of the liner notes, continues: “The common element is therefore not found in the score, but in the exciting fact that a composer is dealing with the same lines of text almost 300 years later – biblical quotations from the Old and New Testaments as well as choral verses of various librettists – and using them to write a ‘similar’ but stylistically wholly different canon of works.”
Going back to my previous review I noted that I thought then that the overriding impression of listening to these two composers’ works alternately was not the differences between their compositional styles – even though they were quite obvious – but how much they had in common. Bach almost 300 years ago was a decidedly ‘modernistic’ composer; Sandström today is a ‘modernistic’ composer, but in several respects they meet somewhere halfway between the centuries. Sandström admits that he is fascinated by Bach and regards him as “a fantastic composer, the best of all time”, but he had no aim to sound like Bach. Still he says that if there are similarities it has to do with the fact that they are setting the same texts.
In my notes for the present recording I found that I had used almost identical wording as in my previous review, which of course is an indication that I experienced their music similarly almost three years later. The central impression can be quoted word by word from the first review: “[Bach’s motets] are still, almost three centuries after they were written, fresh as paint and sound modern, just as Sven-David Sandström’s are equally inventive and timeless. The most fascinating of all is that “Bach vs Sandström?” as the header of the liner notes says never ends in a clash but in a thrilling dialogue about contrasts and the contrasts are more often than not bigger within the compositions than between them. Isn’t that praise enough for these on the surface incompatible quantities?”
The singing of Kammerchor Hannover is as before as close to perfection as can be possible, and the recording is everything one can want. Readers who invested in the previous volume need no persuasion from me to add the new disc to their collections, and those who didn’t invest three years ago should grab the opportunity now and add volume one as well.
This is fascinating music that will stand repeated listening during a lifetime.
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