Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bach - Motetten - Arsys; Pierre Cao; Les Basses Reunies (Flac)

Bach - Motetten - Arsys; Pierre Cao; Les Basses Reunies (Flac)

For those who prefer their Bach motets on an even-keeled, intimate scale, this Ambroisie recording by the recently formed French choir Arsys, directed by Pierre Cao, may be exactly what you are looking for. Throughout these performances Arsys tends to downplay the drama and immediacy of the texts, opting instead for a more reverential, almost chant-like delivery. Listen, for instance, to how the singers engage the familiar entrance to BWV 225, Singet dem Herrn. The usual polyphonic urgency afforded "Singet" here is treated more like a statement of solemn inevitability than as the declaration of joy expressed by most other choirs. Likewise in BWV 227, Jesu, meine Freude, Arsys' renderings of "Jesu, meine Zier" (Jesu my treasure!) and "Ist dem Herzen bange und verlangt nach dir!" (My fainting heart longs for thee) sound relatively pious, meek, and sublimely resigned in comparison to other long-standing favorite interpretations by Schneidt, Jacobs, Harnoncourt, Biller, and Herreweghe.

This is not to imply that Arsys' performances are duller or somehow less captivating. They certainly are not. It's just that for listeners accustomed to hearing performances more informed by the director's interpretive personality, this one, where such influences are nearly absent, may take some getting used to. Cao's small-scaled, pensive, and very "sacred" approach will not appeal to everyone. Anyone who prefers the grandiose interpretive gestures of Schneidt and Harnoncourt, or who insists that for authenticity's sake only a boys' choir is appropriate would do well to pass. However, those who appreciate the meticulous grandeur of Jacobs' reading or the refined stateliness Herreweghe brings to his renditions may find much of what Cao and Arsys offer to be equally worthwhile if not eminently fascinating.

Ambroisie's sound is excellent, if not ideally suited to Cao's interpretation. You can almost hear each singer's breathing, distinct yet unified in the ensemble and in the dry, non-resonant acoustic space. Ambroisie's striking digipac presentation and informative notes by Yutha Tep round out this exceptional offering. [8/13/2002]

--John Greene

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I am looking for other versions of the motets.



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