Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It’s a little ironic that composers can spend their lives creating great works of art and then they die and begin to decompose.

It used to be that all I knew about Bach was that he composed music for the pipe organ. I thought he was okay but it wasn’t something I was really interested in. That was before I heard Bach choruses sung by boy choirs. Boy, did I change my mind fast. I had no idea how grand and beautiful his music could be.

There is a CD titled Johann Sebastian Bach - Famous Choruses and it features several of the great boy’s choirs: Kings College, Knabenchor Hannover, Tolzer Knabenchor and Wiener Sangerknaben.
It also has the voices of the men’s choir Chorus Viennensis and the mixed adult choir Collegium Vocale (Ghent) but don’t let that stop you from buying the CD. The adults sing in combination with the boy’s choirs and, in my opinion, are improved by doing so.

I just love the first song Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben (Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life) which is a very rousing number by the Tolzer Knabenchor.
Another stirring song is Der Himmel Lacht, Die Erde Jubilieret (The Heavens Laugh, The Earth Rejoices) which is sung by both the Tolzer and the King’s College boys. It’s a good pairing.

Every song on here is beautiful and to have such a great collection of boys makes it a perfect album. I like it a lot.


  1. Oooh Knabenchor Hannover has such a nice sound.

    On Herz und Mund, was it the opening chorus ("Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben...)? If so, that's a wonderful showpiece. I hope they threw in a bit of Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott or my personal favourite: Ach Herr, mich armer Suender, which has the "Passion Chorale" as its bass line.

    Bach's soprano lines were exclusively for the treble voice, and it's great to hear about a CD of his work with those as his focus. Something you might be interested by if you like the Bach-ed chorus: the Windsbacher Knabenchor's single disc of the Bach Motets (Motetten)--without reservation the very best Bach CD I have ever heard. Singet demm Herrn ein neues Lied and Lobet den Herrn, allen Heiden are've not heard the Bach treble choir until you've heard this disc!!

    Ok, that's not true: but it's definitely worth your time!

  2. Kelsie, that cd does have Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott on it. Another great song.
    BTW, I just ordered the Motet cd from Amazon, just on your recommendation. I know it'll be great. Thanks.

  3. Ooooh you won't be disappointed, I promise!

    Some highlights to look forward to:
    Singet dem Herrn is uniformly awesome--the first movement takes just a tiny bit of time to get moving, but the choir crosses some incredible ground--at the end, on the words "Mit Pauken!" / "With drums!", it's their incredible artistry to make those interjections sound percussive. The second movement is like a gentle, undulating lullaby, but the fourth movement, Alles, was Odem hat, lobet dem Hern / Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! is stunning.

    From Jesu, Meine Freude, all of the movements are good, but the ethereal beauty of Denn das Gesetz and especially Gute Nacht are truly outstanding--alongside this one, the Tolzers' Gute Nacht is floating about somewhere on YouTube and is a little less polished but just as good.

    If you have a surround sound system or a nice speaker setup in your car, Komm, Jesu, Komm's doppelchor (double choir) call-and-response opening will make full use of that...

    ...but one of the best moments is right at the end of Lobet demm Herrn, allen the music starts sounding like a Libera track (ie, the melodic lines start stretching out) and it all finally comes to a gentle rest, there is barely a moment of silence before the soprano line suddenly bursts out, "Alleluia!", followed by the other voices--you'll just have to hear it!

    It's a gorgeous CD: I own upwards of 1,200 Bach CDs and think this is hands-down the best one I've ever heard!