singing parts of Jesu meine freude when I was in the Singapore
Youth Choir. "Ihr aber seid nichts fleishlich" was one of our competition
pieces. Ever since then, I have been in love with the intricate
scoring of this music and these Motets have become one of my all-time
motets are six in number. There are various accounts by famous scholars
with regards to their authenticity and style.
BWV 225 Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied (1726-7)
BWV 226 Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf (1729)
BWV 227 Jesu, meine Freude (?)
BWV 228 Fürchte dich nicht (?)
BWV 229 Komm, Jesu, komm! (1730?)
BWV 230 Lobet den Herrn alle Heiden (?)
BWV 118 O Jesu Christ, mein Lebens Licht (1736-7)
BWV 231 Sei Lob und Preis mit Ehren
Eliot Gardiner includes BWV 231 "Sei Lob und Preis mit Ehren" and
the unclassified "Der Gerechte kommt um" as completed motets. However,
BWV 231 has now been identified as part of an incomplete cantata
or motet by Telemann.
more are cantatas he believes to be wrongly classified as such.
All these have also been included in his set of motets and motet-like
movements. Their inclusion in Gardiner's set serves scholastic interest
and may be welcomed by those intent on examining these works to
greater detail. In any other case, they make wonderful listening
for the discerning ear. Most of the other available recordings consider
BWVs 225-230 as the only six surviving Motets by J.S. Bach.
MOTET is the oldest compositional genre in European polyphonic
art music. Its history can be followed without interruption from
its beginning in the 12th century up to our own day, and it was
always regarded as representative of the highest musical artistry.
During the 18th century, the singing of the motet constituted a
fixed element of services in the two principle churches of Leipzig:
St. Nicholas and St. Thomas, the working spheres of J.S. Bach from
1723 up till his death in 1750.
The interior of the St. Thomas.
motet was always heard after the introductory organ prelude, while
the cantata (the principle music) was performed between the gospel
reading and the sermon. In any case, it is customary that the job
of performing them fell to the Kantorei (Church Choir), which was
made up exclusively of boys' and men's voices. Instruments, if used,
are often performed colla parte (doubling) with the vocal
are divided as to the purpose of the six Motets. Though most of
them were thought to be funeral music, they cover a lot of ground
in terms of creativity, originality, choral and vocal techniques.
These motets are truly masterpieces by any standard. The amount
of attention they receive however, judging from the number of people
who know them, is tantamount to shame.
their entirety, great complexity and immense demands on vocal virtuosity,
the Motets have been rendered rare in most choir repertoires. Nevertheless,
no lesser figure than Philippe Herreweghe has written that they
are "consummate" in conception and "fearsomely difficult to perform".
A Survey of Recordings
earliest Brandenburg Concertos in the DG Walkman Classics series
was eaten up by the cassette player. Today, he has six versions
on CD, so that it won't happen again.
If you wish to
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30.5.1998 © Ng Yeuk Fan
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