For the Ripieno Choir, JS Bach is something of a spiritual ‘home’ – we never fail to enjoy performing his music. So, it seems fitting that in one of our last concerts with David Hansell at the helm, we return to the master.
Bach’s motets are, of course, highlights of the entire choral repertoire, with passionate chromaticism in Fürchte dich nicht and effervescent high spirits in Lobet den Herrn. Jesu meine Freude is an absolute masterpiece, combining variations on a chorale melody with freely composed music to produce perfect musical symmetry and profound spirituality. Similarly, in his seldom performed Kyrie eleison in F, Bach fuses a plainchant melody with lively counterpoint.
Partnering Bach this time are two other great choral masters who also served in major German courts and/or churches – Lassus and Schütz – demonstrating the musical progression from Renaissance, through early to late Baroque styles.
Lassus’s motets display the High Renaissance style at its best, with flowing musical lines, colourful touches of harmony, and rich choral textures in six parts. Schütz takes this one stage further with his dramatic psalm setting of Herr unser Herrscher in eight parts. His Passion Motets do not so much tell the Biblical story as meditate upon it, building upon Lassus’s experiments with harmony to create music of great intensity.