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Cantatas (sacred) - Released February 16, 2018 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Diapason d'or / Arte
The cantata Jesus nahm zu sich die Zwölfe (Jesus gathered the twelve to Himself) BWV 22, holds a historic place in Bach’s work. Indeed he composed it while still in Köthen, as an audition piece for the position of Thomaskantor in Leipzig, and then conducted it on February 7th, 1723, maybe even singing the bass part himself. Famously the city council, unable to convince its preferred composers – Telemann, Graupner and two others –, decided to settle with “mediocre” Bach… The gospel of the day first announces his death and his resurrection by Christ and his disciplines. A modest orchestra: voices, strings, one oboe and continuo, but the musical content is – like in almost all of Bach’s cantatas – amongst the best he’s ever written. For the same celebration, Bach composed a new cantata the following year, Herr Jesu Christ, wahr’ Mensch und Gott (Lord Jesus Christ, true Man and God) BWV 127. But it has almost nothing in common with the previous piece: here Bach offers a very impressive reflection on physical death. Throughout his cantatas he called for a blessed death to free himself from the vicissitudes of life on Earth, but this now reveals how much he may have feared physical death itself. The aria ”Die Seele ruht” is one of these sublime moments suspended in time, an ineffable tintinnabulum, in which the soprano and the oboe dialogue on a harrowing theme while the flutes and string pizzicatos symbolise the passing of time with incredible beauty. Finally it’s with Die Elenden sollen essen (The miserable shall eat) BWV 75 that Bach started off his work in Leipzig, in St. Nicholas Church this time, as the cantatas were alternately performed in both churches. Probably because he wanted to start with a bang, he designed this cantata on a huge scale: fourteen numbers, divided in two parts. Of course Bach would have never been able to produce such vast and powerful partitions on a weekly basis, but there is a real substance to this Passion… and it’s with great passion that Philippe Pierlot, his Ricercar Consort and the soloists perform these masterpieces. © SM/Qobuz
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Sacred Oratorios - Released March 29, 2019 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
Composed by Dietrich Buxtehude in 1680 for the church of Lübeck, where he had been working for ten years, Membra Jesu Nostri describes the scars of the Passion of Christ through a cycle of seven cantatas. The work owes its title to a Latin manuscript written by a relative of Saint Bernard. Typical of the pietism of 17th century Lutheran Germany, the piece is a descent into the darkness of suffering and an ode to the promise of consolation. Grounded in rhetoric, Buxtehude’s music influenced a generation of innovative musicians. It would later be an inspiration to Johann Sebastian Bach, who traveled to Lübeck specifically to meet Buxtehude. Membra Jesus Nostri was written for a five-voice ensemble. It requires a set of soloists with three lower voices and two upper parts, as well as a subtle instrumental accompaniment featuring two violins, five viols, and one basso continuo chose by the musicians. Some authors have seen the influence of the “Versailles Motet,” which Buxtehude knew well, in this setup. The influence of Italian music, especially Monteverdi, which he may have known through his interest in Schütz’s music, is also clear. The work is the testimony to Buxtehude’s incredibly expressive power and deserves to be considered as a masterpiece among other spiritual compositions such as Schütz’s Musikalische Exequien, Bach’s Passions and, on an instrumental level, Biber’s Sonates du Rosaire.According to Philippe Pierlot, who can be heard on the record, “Buxtehude is appealing directly to our senses and making us experience the suffering of Christ. We can feel the wounds, the blows, and the heart when it ceases to beat. Thanks to the genius of his music, the composer not only moves his listener to intense emotion, but also enlightens him, giving him access to the deep meaning of the text it sings” © François Hudry/Qobuz