Johann Sebastian Bach
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Telarc's pairing of these two great choral works is most welcome. Many readers will have some familiarity with them — at least with their opening choruses, both of which are good candidates for any "greatest hits" collection for their respective composers. (I believe I first heard both openings some 30 years ago on the morning program of WFMT, the great Chicago classical music station.)
The Gloria is the smaller in scale of the two, and with only three female soloists it seems likely it that it was written for the performing forces available at the girls' orphanage in Venice where the composer worked for much of his life. There is abundant melodic invention throughout, and the piece is altogether charming.
Written in the celebratory key of D Major and for larger forces, the Magnificat was clearly designed for festive occasions. With more soloists male and female, often combined in duets, and the many imaginative flourishes from both orchestra and chorus underscoring the meaning of the text, the effect is near-operatic in dramatic intensity.
Pearlman and the Boston Baroque give us exuberant, extroverted performances. Certainly other approaches to this music are available on recordings, some perhaps more devotional in mood, but I think the Bostonians have hit just the right note here. Bravo, ladies and gentlemen!
Telarc's sound is outstanding — warm and spacious, with clear textures even in the most complicated passages. Dynamics are impressively well scaled, and nothing seems overblown or exaggerated. Every music lover should own these works, and I highly recommend this release.