The Observer, July 2019
Fashions in early music performance come and go, but the Belgian ensemble Vox Luminis, directed by Lionel Meunier, has established itself as a new star of the scene. With its transparent, flexible, indeed luminous sound, it is rather different from English ensembles. Having memorably recorded the devotional motets of the Bach family, they now turn to Cantatas (Ricercar) by Heinrich, Johann Christoph and Johann Michael Bach, alongside JS Bach’s own chorale-based Christ lag in Todesbanden, and the result is another deeply musical triumph.
The strong tradition of respect for the music of the family runs through the Altbachisches Archiv (“Old Bachian Archive”), a manuscript collection that resurfaced quite recently; sSome of these pieces have been recorded before, notably by Musica Antiqua Cologne (DG Archiv), but whereas those performances under Reinhard Goebel were instrumentally led, these new ones are vocally led and sound freshly minted. From the old-style sonorities of Heinrich in the 17th century, through to the severely expressive drama of Johann Christoph in the next generation, one can hear vividly the roots from which the genius of JS Bach sprang. More please.