20 Dec 2005
Monteverdi Choir/Gardiner — Cadogan Hall, London
George Hall [The Guardian, 20 December 2005]
It's not often one has the chance to hear a new work by Bach, but the centrepiece of this programme by the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists under John Eliot Gardiner was the UK premiere of a much-heralded recent discovery. In May, researcher Michael Maul came across a short unknown aria in the composer's hand in a Weimar archive. It sets a poem celebrating the 52nd birthday in 1713 of the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, Bach's then employer. The text alludes to the Duke's motto, "All things with God, and naught without him," which forms the title of the piece. Cut down from the original 12 stanzas to a more manageable three, this minor work nevertheless proved a charmer; melodically graceful and expertly crafted. Soprano Elin Manahan Thomas sang it with flawless tone and perfect diction.