The Financial Times, by Andrew Clark, May 2012
JS Bach Motets (SDG 716)
Having spent most of his career focusing on the large sacred and instrumental works, Gardiner now tells us that Bach’s motets – six short devotional works for double choir – “constitute the most perfect…set among his works”. That is debatable, but Gardiner makes a strong case. The motets are more madrigal-like than the cantatas and Passions, revealing the composer’s dance-like joy in the praise of God (even when the occasion for their performance was sombre) and expressing just as effectively his gift for contrapuntal tapestry. The vital factor is to make the words live, and few are better qualified than the Monteverdi Choir, under Gardiner’s inspired direction.