J. S. Bach| Motets

Capella Cracoviensis, Fabio Bonizzoni
66:26
Alpha 199
BWV225–230, Anh. 159

This recording of the complete motets by eight singers, cello, double bass and organ continuo is one of the most moving discs I have encountered in a long time. Fabio Bonizzoni explains that the group spent a long time exploring not only the music but also its background and original setting – as part of a long German tradition of grave-side songs of consolation. Finding four pairs of equal voices that can combine seamlessly or split into two choirs as the music demands is not easy, but the results here are incredible; the texts are clearly enunciated, the phrases are beautifully shaped, and the tempi – and the spaces between movements – are spot on. There is room in the acoustic for the singers to use vibrato as an ornament, and there is, above all, a real sense of involvement in the ritual of a funeral. Definitely one of my favourite discs this month.

Brian Clark