Bach Motets & solo violin music

The Monteverdi Choir performed Bach family motets in London and Leipzig in June 2024. The concerts also featured Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin performed by Kati Debretzeni (London) and Isabelle Faust (Leipzig).

Monteverdi Choir
English Baroque Soloists
Jonathan Sells – conductor

Kati Debretzeni – violin (London)
Isabelle Faust – violin (Leipzig)

Tuesday 4 June 2024, 7.30pm
St Martin-in-the-Fields, London

Thursday 6 June 2024, 7.30pm
St Martin-in-the-Fields, London

Sunday 9 June 2024, 6pm
St Nicholas Church, Bachfest Leipzig

Concert programme:

Leipziger Volkszeitung: "The Monteverdi Choir, led by Jonathan Sells...proves its extraordinary class: an unearthly purity of intonation, unparalleled clarity of articulation, playful word-painting – all singing virtuosically, highly individually yet perfectly integrated into a soundscape of boundless dynamic range and brilliance."


Concert 1 – Out of the Shadows (4 June & 9 June)
Bach family and contemporaries

Johann Bach – Unser Leben ist ein Schatten
Nicola Matteis Jr – Fantasia for Solo Violin in A minor
Johann Michael Bach – Unser Leben währet siebenzig Jahr
Johann Michael Bach – Halt, was du hast
Johann Georg Pisendel – Sonata in A minor: [Prelude]
Johann Christoph Bach – Der Gerechte, ob er gleich zu zeitlich stirbt
Nicola Matteis Sr – Ayres for the Violin: Preludio, Passagio rotto, Fantasia
Johann Christoph Bach – Fürchte dich nicht
Johann Sebastian Bach – Ich lasse dich nicht, BWV 1165
Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber – Rosary Sonata 16: Passacaglia in G minor ‘The guardian angel’
Johann Michael Bach – Ich weiß, dass mein Erlöser lebt
Johann Sebastian Bach – Sonata 1 in G minor, BWV 1001: Adagio
Johann Sebastian Bach – Komm, Jesu, komm, BWV 229
Johann Sebastian Bach – Sonata 1 in G minor, BWV 1001: Fuga
Johann Sebastian Bach – Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf, BWV 226

Concert 2 – Into the Light (6 June & 9 June)
J.S. Bach: Motets & solo violin music

Johann Sebastian Bach – Partita 1 in B minor, BWV 1002: Allemande, Double
Johann Sebastian Bach – Jesu, meine Freude, BWV 227 I-IV
Johann Sebastian Bach – Partita 1 in B minor, BWV 1002: Courante, Double
Johann Sebastian Bach – Jesu, meine Freude, BWV 227 V-VII
Johann Sebastian Bach – Sonata 2 in A minor, BWV 1003: Andante
Johann Sebastian Bach – Jesu, meine Freude, BWV 227 VIII-XI
Johann Sebastian Bach – Partita 2 in D minor, BWV 1004
Johann Sebastian Bach – Singet dem Herrn, BWV 225

Bach’s motets have been part of the Monteverdi Choir’s repertoire for over five decades, giving the choir the opportunity to display technical virtuosity as well as a vivid conception of the drama behind Bach’s interpretation of the religious texts.

Many of the motets were composed for funerals, but the music’s variety and frequent exuberance belies this fact; we are constantly aware of Bach’s questing, imaginative mind in these explorations of man’s relationship to the divine.

All of Bach’s six authenticated motets were written between 1723 and 1727 for St Thomas’ Church, Leipzig, where Bach was appointed as director of music in 1723. Each of them is endlessly fascinating, and each inhabits its own sound world. Bach’s masterful use of canon, fugue and counterpoint, and the brilliant exploitation of double-choir sonorities, are perfectly matched by the Monteverdi Choir’s virtuosity.

These miraculous pieces were interspersed with Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin performed by Kati Debretzeni, the leader of the English Baroque Soloists, in London and Isabelle Faust in Leipzig. The first concert also gave an opportunity to hear motets by older members of Bach’s family, alongside instrumental pieces by their contemporaries.