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John Eliot Gardiner literally has a lifetime of intimate familiarity with J.S. Bach's six motets without independent instrumental accompaniment; he reports that as a boy chorister of 11 or 12 he knew the treble lines to all of them. That familiarity is evident in these exceptionally insightful and exceptionally well-sung performances with the Monteverdi Choir. The group lives up to its reputation as being in the very highest echelon of choirs worldwide, singing these especially treacherous works with almost superhuman precision, immaculate tone and balance, and infectious, unguarded passion. The singers handle Bach's exquisitely interwoven counterpoint with apparent ease even at the outrageously fast but emotionally appropriate tempos that Gardiner takes. He avoids the academic rigidity that can easily prevail in performances of counterpoint this intricate by always maintaining a dancing sense of lightness and buoyancy. The performances are also characterized by a warm intimacy. That's due at least in... Hide synopsis

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