Featured Album September 2023: Solomon's Knot "Bach Motets"
During September we are very pleased to have the brand new album by Solomon's Knot as our featured album. We last saw them perform at last year's London International Festival of Early Music where they shared their programme of motets by J S Bach and J C Bach. With its striking contemporary cover, that programme has now been committed to disc courtesy of Prospero Classical – read on to find out more about this fantastic new release...
OUR FEATURED ALBUM FOR SEPTEMBER 2023
Click here to order now! (Released 8th September)
From the artist's press release…
This recording features the complete motets by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), set in the context of music from the previous generation of his family which inspired him. In his final decade, JS Bach researched and performed motets by his father’s cousin, Johann Christoph (1642-1703), whom he greatly admired. Although Johann Sebastian took the motet genre (and presumably his singers) to the limits of possibility, one can also hear the strong influence of the family tradition.
This is the first of a series of location-specific Solomon's Knotrecording projects. They have chosen Arnstadt’s inspirational Bachkirche for these works, not only for its wonderful acoustic, but also as a place which connects the two Bachs: Johann Christoph was born in Arnstadt, and Johann Sebastian’s first job as an organist was at the church, which came to be named after him.
Why The Early Music Shop loves "Bach Motets":
Recorded last year at the baroque ‘wedding cake’ Bachkirche in Arnstadt, this 2CD set contains not only Johann Sebastian’s familiar (and much recorded) motets but also many of those by his father’s cousin, Johann Christoph Bach (1642–1703), in whose output Johann Sebastian was interested enough to include several examples in his collection of Bach Family music, the Alt-Bachisches Archiv. Whereas the writing in Johann Sebastian’s motets is highly complex, full of intricate vocal roulades and polyphony of sustained intensity, Johann Christian’s examples are generally free of such relentless polyphonic writing. As Jonathan Sells, artistic director of Solomon’s Knot, observes in his absorbing liner note, Johann Christoph’s motets embrace an ‘instinctive emotional response to each new poetic idea, characterised by striking word setting and highly expressive, sometimes audacious use of harmony.’ As a context for Johann Sebastian’s motets, those of his father’s cousin provide a perfect foil.
Solomon’s Knot has performed this programme of motets at festivals in the UK (including LIFEM) and across Europe, and the recording has clearly benefitted from being refined in the fire of the live experience. The results are breath-taking, not only in the clarity of the fast runs of JSB’s quick outer movements but also in the emotional core the performers mine in JCB’s motets. The words ‘Fürchte dich nicht’ (Be not afraid), used by both Bachs in settings on this recording, could easily act as a motto for this programme.
The eight singers (SATB x2) and two instrumentalists (violone and organ) of Solomon’s Knot deliver performances that are joyous, uplifting in spirit and musically superb. The image of a break dancer that adorns the cover of the luxurious presentation of these CDs provides us with a contemporary clue to the unbridled virtuosity and vocal acrobatics of the contents of these perfectly judged pair of CDs. A key feature of Solomon’s Knot’s approach is always to perform from memory – no small feat in music of such difficulty, but one which evidently comes with huge benefits. This is a recording to be heard by everyone fascinated by this endlessly engaging music.
Bach Motets is available from The Early Music Shop - buy online or in our Snape Maltings showroom now!