Recordings/Discussions
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Recordings & Discussions of Other Vocal Works: Main Page | Motets BWV 225-231 | Mass in B minor BWV 232 | Missae Breves & Sanctus BWV 233-242 | Magnificat BWV 243 | Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 | Johannes-Passion BWV 245 | Lukas-Passion BWV 246 | Markus-Passion BWV 247 | Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 | Oster-Oratorium BWV 249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-523 | Quodlibet BWV 524 | Aria BWV 1127

Mass in B minor BWV 232

General Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Donald Satz wrote (September 14, 1999):
< Donald Scarinci wrote: Which Art of Fugue do I get? >

As Donald reminded us, he places high priority on excellent sound. Well, I don't pay any attention to 20/24 bits, but the following recordings, imho, all possess fine sound or better:

Harpsichord - My favorite is Gilbert on Archiv. Other fine versions include Moroney on Harminia Mundi, Leonhardt on Vanguard, and Robert Hill on Music & Arts.

Piano - Nikolayeva on Hyperion and MacGregor on Collins are the two best I've heard. Aldwell on Biddulph, Sokolov on Opus 111, and Koroliov on Tacet are also good choices.

Ensembles - Three great ones: Keller Quartet on ECM, Savall on Astree, and Phantasm on Simax.

If Donald were to buy only two versions, I'd recommend the Gilbert and MacGregor.

Wes Crone wrote (September 14, 1999):

Ohh I get it, now you are asking ME to make a tough decision. Well, let me tell you buster, this is exactly the kind of decision I LOVE to make. I have a 2 favorites which I will share with you. One is performed on harpsichord and one with string quartet. My favorite harpsichord version is performed by Ton Koopman and Tini Mathot on the Erato label. All the pieces are played by the duet except for the 4 canons (performed by Koopman alone) and the 8th Contrapunctus (also played by Koopman. The recorded sound is superb DDD and the harpsichords also sound wonderful. The instruments are modeled after the Ruckers and Couchet claviers of the early days. Of course, the playing is also very fine.

The other performance is by the Julliard String quartet. I received it as a Christmas present a few years back and I was astonished. I looked and listened to Die Kunst Der Fuge with new eyes and ears. The recording was made in 1992 and is crisp DDD with superb playing by the men from Julliard. Rather than adapting Bach's counterpoint to work with the instruments, (as violist Samuel Rhodes explained is a common occurrence), the quartet enlisted the help of a master luthier to build a special viola with an extended lower range. To go along with the usual movements the quartet also plays the chorale "Vor deinen Thron tret' ich hiermit" which C.P.E. Bach so famously added at the end after the untimely demise of the Master. This is absolutely the most beautiful performance of this choral I have EVER heard. I was in tears the first time I heard it. I give 4 stars, 2 thumbs up, and an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10 for this rendition.

I like both of these interpretations equally. I really suggest you buy one of them and, if finances allow, pick up the other one too. If you really like the music itself I don't think you'll be disappointed with these performances. I really hope I have been of some help to you sir.

Felix Delbruck wrote (September 16, 1999):

< Don Satz warned: For all those list members who have spoken of Gardiner's music in a depreciating manner, be assured that the "day of retribution" will be upon you ... >

All of it? I'm willing to have another go at his Bach recordings, but you can't credibly be an admirer of his Beethoven symphonies - they are the musical equivalent of ice-skating! The 9th symphony in particular is a glib and unmusical travesty.

Donald Satz wrote (September 15, 1999):

< Tedd Jander wrote: I read an article in the Summer 1999 issue of Early Music America, about a version of Bach's Mass in B by Joshua Rifkin from 1982 that >had one person per part. No information was given about a record label, price, etc. of the recording or if the recording is available. >

Rifkin's Bach Mass was on the Nonesuch label but has recently been reissued on Ultima/Warner. The catalog number is 7559-79563.

Rifkin also employed the one person per part approach to his Bach cantata recordings for Decca. I do like Rifkin's Bach Mass but find that his approach works better with the cantatas. However, I am glad I have his Mass and like the change of pace it provides.

As for whether Rifkin's approach is correct or not, that's a decision for each listener to make based on musical preference. It's merit based on historical accuracy interests me little.

Patrik Enander wrote (September 15, 1999):

< Don wrote: I do have a question for Patrik and David. Do you find Gardiner's performances of the Bach cantatas an improvement over the Mass and Christmas Oratorio. >

I have only heard a few Gardiner cantatas briefly and it was quite some time ago, so, unfortunately, I can't answer your question. But if I hear them in the future I will comment on them. Right now I'm collecting as much Herreweghe and Suzuki as I can afford. I enjoyed their Bach immensly, especially Herreweghe. (I must sound like a cracked record!)

Has anyone checked out the on-going Koopman series. They have recieved very cautious reviews! I think it is a big mistake to release them in boxes of 3 or 4 CDís. Bach for the affluent? I for one find them too expensive, even though Goteborg is known to have the cheapest cd:s in northen Europe!

Patrik Enander wrote (September 16, 1999):

Another one-to-a-part performance I'm very interested is American Bach Soloists/Jeffery Thomas (who has sung with Rifkin) on Koch. I have two cd:s with Bach cantatas with this ensemble. I was quite a shock when I heard them the first time, but I have come to enjoy them very much. I read a "review" on jsbach.org where someone wrote that their Mass was the most satisfying Bach record he heard during 40 years of listening of Bach's music!

Santu De Silva (Archimedes) wrote (September 16, 1999):

< Stephen Heersink wrote concerning Gardiner's Bach Mass: Similar problems occur with the passion and resurrection phrases. It sounds like someone doesn't understand the liturgical significance of >the works their singing or the notes they're playing. >

This would be a good reason not to hear Bach sung by any but a German choir! But in my case, I think we're talking about different degrees of perfection. The Gardiner B minor Mass is good enough for me, though I certainly would not be loth to acquire a better recording.

I'd like to hear which reecording is considered a good one from the point of view of a german-speaker.

D. Stephen Heersink wrote (September 16, 1999):

< Donald Satz <dsatz@hotmail.com> writes: For all those list members who have spoken of Gardiner's music in a depreciating manner, be assured that the "day of retribution" will be upon you - 8 straight hours of Gardiner/Bach in a soundproof and locked booth. I'll be situated outside the booth providing you with increasing doses of electric current whenever a favorite musical passage is played. >

Don't misunderstand me. I have many of Gardiner's performances on disc and enjoy them immensely. In some case, Gardiner's liturgical performances are fine. But I just don't think he reaches the depth, breadth, and emotion of such a varied piece as Bach's Mass. Richter, Jochum, and even Karajan capture the gravitas and splendor in finer fashion than Gardiner in this, I repeat, this composition. But when it comes to Beethoven's Symphonies, Brahms' Requiem, and several of Bach's Cantatas, Gardiner is in top form.

Kevin Sutton wrote (September 15, 1999):

< Stephen Heersink wrote concerning Gardiner's Bach Mass: Similar problems occur with the passion and resurrection phrases. It sounds like someone doesn't understand the liturgical significance of the works their singing or the notes they're playing. >

The B minor mass has no liturgical significance. It is a show piece which Bach compoesed for no intention other than to get a job. The Roman liturgy had no "practical" meaning for Bach. (Of course I am sure he understood it, but he would have never written a Roman mass for actual liturgical use). Furthermore, the word "liturgy" means a "prescribed form of public worship". Liturgy is the rubrics by which we conduct worship. I think what Stephen is trying to say is that the singers might not understand the "theological" significance of the words they're (sic) singing.Although I find no sucerror, as it were, in the Gardiner recording of the b minor, I think that it is important that we use the correct terminology.

< David Stewart wrote: I wish I could tell you. I only have 310 CDs so far. No Bach cantatas whatsoever. >

What a loss. I highly encourage you to expose yourself to this amazing body of literature. Start with some of Herwegghe's recordings.

< Tedd A Jander wrote: I read an article in the Summer 1999 issue of Early Music America, about a version of Bach's Mass in B by Joshua Rifkin from 1982 that had one person per part. No information was given about a record label, price, etc. of >the recording or if the recording is available. >

It is still available on Nonsuch.

< The main point of the article was whether or not Rifkin's approach is correct as far as some Bach scholars are concerned. Anyway, my main >question is this, has anyone heard this recording or heard of this approach to Bach's Mass? I'd be curious to hear this version. >

I find it seriously lacking. It simply doesn't have the span and grandeur that the piece needs. One must remember again that Bach probably never heard the b minoe performed in his lifetime. It was composed (compiled might be a better term) as an audition piece for the position of Kappellmeister to the court of Dresden). I doubt very seriously if he intended such a piece to be performed this way. We know enough about Bach's available forces to realize that even he found them too small and inadequate in both size and quality. Why would he consign so major an undertaking to soloists only. I think that the Rifkin practice is a failed experiment.

Johan van Veen wrote (September 16, 1999):

<< Johan van Veen wrote: Even if the British understand the German language, very few can speak it fluently and very few seem to truely understand the differentiations of the language. >>

< Walter Meyer wrote: But the text of the b minor mass is in Greek (the Kyrie) and Latin! >

Had you read my message carefully, you would have noticed that I was making some general points about the English approach to Bach and German baroque music in general. Of course, since the b-minor Mass is in Latin, the language isn't a problem - apart from the fact that some performances still use the Italian pronunciation in stead of the German - my point is that the native language of a composer also influences his instrumental writing. Therefore whoever wants to play an instrumental piece by Bach has to have a good knowledge of the German language. As I said, baroque music is based on speaking. Rhetorics - the art of speaking - was one of the main things every baroque musician had to learn.

< Alberto Larzabal wrote: Which are those fantastic "Bachian" choirs? I'm really interested... >

I wouldn't take anything away from the technical abilities of the Monteverdi Choir, I was mainly speaking about the interpretation. I have heard the choir in Händel oratorios, and noticed that it sounds fine as long as it can sing loudly and very dramatica stuff, but isn't by far as convincing when comes down to singing music of a more intimate nature. It just uses too much vibrato and therefore isn't as transparent as it should be. I believe that singing baroque music should be based on speaking. Therefore the text and every single word are very important. With the Monteverdi Choir too much details are lost. My alternatives? Well, for a start I have problems with mixed choirs singing Bach. I prefer choirs of boys and men, and the Teldec recordings with Bach's cantatas are unsurpassed in that respect. In particular the Tolz Boys' Choir and the Hanover Boys' Choir are brilliant. As far as mixed choirs are concerned, the Collegium Vocale Gent is definitely one of the best, others are the Stuttgart Chamber Choir and the RIAS Chamber Choir from Berlin. There may be others, but those are the ones I am thinking of right now.

< Tedd A Jander wrote: I read an article in the Summer 1999 issue of Early Music America, about a version of Bach's Mass in B by Joshua Rifkin from 1982 that had one person per part. ... The main point of the article was whether or not Rifkin's approach is correct as far as some Bach scholars are concerned. Anyway, my main question is this, has anyone heard this recording or heard of this approach to Bach's Mass? >

I can't go into any detail about this; I am sure you can find some information on his approach elsewhere. But he believes that Bach intended his vocal works to be sung by one voice a per part. He is arguing this for years, but as far as I know most scholars don't believe he is right. As far as the recording of the b-minor Mass is concerned, it was originally released on LP by Nonesuch; I found a CD version in my catalogue on Teldec. Although that recording isn't bad, the problem with Rifkin is his almost 'neutral' approach of Bach's music. There is a complete lack of passion. He is in many ways returning to the blandness of some recordings from the early days of HIP, when every sign of emotion was suspect. He has recorded some Bach cantatas later, and they sound even more bland. He may have interesting ideas, but he will never win people over with his style of performance. (By the way, he has conducted the Cappella Coloniensis, the period instrument orchestra of WDR radio in Cologne, in some Haydn symphonies, and there his approach was exactly the same.) He has been conducting music by Schutz in the Early Music Festival in Utrecht some years ago, and it was awful. Some information: the Bach cantatas have been released by Decca (Florilegium series). There is also a recording on Tudor of Bach's Magnificat and a Magnificat by Melchior Hoffmann.

Donald Satz wrote (September 17, 1999):

< Patrik Enander wrote: Has anyone checked out the on-going Koopman series. They have received very cautious reviews! I think it is a big mistake to release them in boxes of 3 or 4 CDís. Bach for the affluent? >

I'm collecting the Koopman series and find it excellent with one exception. The earliest volumes had Barbara Schlick as the primary soprano; I just can't handle her voice, sounds like it's always ready to collapse. As for the reviews, I think they've been highly complimentary and getting better with each additional volume. I prefer Koopman to Suzuki as long as Schlick stays out of the picture. But, I'm also buying all the Suzuki volumes.

I also prefer the 3-disc sets. There's a great deal of music to cover, and at Suzuki's pace, I could be pushing up daisies before he's done. With Koopman, I have a fighting chance. As for cost, I try no to think about it; denial has much going for it.

Steven Schwartz wrote (September 17, 1999):

< Patrik Enander wrote: Has anyone checked out the on-going Koopman series. They have recieved very cautious reviews! I think it is a big mistake to release them in >boxes of 3 or 4 CDís. Bach for the affluent? I for one find them too expensive, even though Goteborg is known to have the cheapest CDís in northen Europe! >

I have heard all the volumes so far and reviewed two. You can find this at http://www.classical.net/ Follow the Articles and Reviews link.

Deryk Barker (September 17, 1999):

< Kevin Sutton wrote: The B minor mass has no liturgical significance. It is a show piece which Bach compoesed for no intention other than to get a job. >

Ah, which job would this be Kevin? Given that the work was assembled by Bach from largely previously existing movements - the Sanctus from 1724, the Kyrie and Gloria from 1733 - and that the last four pieces (according the Grove) were added in 1748-9, only a year or two before Bach's death, it seems unlikely.

Donald Satz wrote (September 17, 1999):

< Johan van Veen wrote: ...my point is that the native language of a composer also influences his instrumental writing. Therefore whoever wants to play an instrumental piece by Bach has to have a good knowledge of the German language. >

Does this mean that I can't play Bach on my piano anymore? This is a sad day.

< Johan also wrote concerning Rifkin's Bach Mass: Although that recording isn't bad, the problem with Rifkin is his almost 'neutral' approach of Bach's music. This a complete lack of passion. He has recorded some Bach cantatas later, and they sound even more bland. He may have interesting ideas, but he will never win people over with his style of performance. >

Rifkin won me over without any problem. I consider his Bach cantata recordings better than Suzuki and Koopman, and not far off from the standards set by Herreweghe. No passion, bland? Hardly. I bought Rifkin's recordings before they were reissued at lower price, and I think of them as among the best cd's in my collection, and I do love my collection.

Johan has been providing us with negative perceptions of Bach recordings from Rifkin, Herreweghe, and others. He's also indicated that he has not yet found a fully satisfying recording of the B minor Mass, a work which has been recorded with much frequency. Maybe he just doesn't like Bach very much, or else he's the fussiest Bach fan I've heard of.

< Well, for a start I have problems with mixed choirs singing Bach. I prefer choirs of boys and men, and the Teldec recordings with Bach's cantatas are unsurpassed in that respect. >

Johan and I don't seem to agree on anything concerning performances of Bach's music. I think that boys and Bach sound bad together. Why? They sound to me like small children totally out of place. Further, what's wrong with the singing of women? I love the sound of women - and the smell, look, carriage, and thought processess of women as well.

Andrys Basten wrote (September 17, 1999):

< Donald Satz wrote: As for whether Rifkin's approach is correct or not, that's a decision for each listener to make based on musical preference. It's merit based on historical accuracy interests me little. >

Yes. I have the old one on Nonesuch. I did note that when a singer goes terribly off-pitch in harmonies produced by passing notes, that there are no other people singing along as in a chorus that might mitigate the sometimes awful effect. But it's an interesting listen. I thought the one- on-a-part Crucifixus in Gardiner's (I think it was his) Bach b minor Mass was quite interesting in effect, but the same problem of the effect of one person's intonation problems on a crucial suspension is there. I personally prefer the more massed sound myself but still like having these alternatives.

Andrys Basten wrote (September 17, 1999):

I sang this piece (with our SF Symphony Chorus) under Richter at a time when he was a wee upset that there was a union strike, we had to move to a wide hall (Masonic Hall - bad acoustics) and he was asked to accept quartet-style seating (which we preferred) in order to get the sound of all parts to audience sitting where they'd otherwise not hear one area of the stage.

I loved those few nights we sang this even under those conditions, and it turned out he liked the Quartet arrangement very much when he was convinced to give it a try. I even went to the trouble to get his autograph on my score.

However, I still have a real liking for the Gardiner recording too, though its aesthetic is very different. I think my expectations change with the instruments and style, but this has never struck me as the shallow interpretation some others do feel it is. Maybe it's that I can hear each note of all that counterpoint better or notes which make up such beautiful harmonies, but I really like this recording as well. I remember thinking the Sanctus had probably never been done quite as well (though it may be too 'clean' for others) and I especially like Michael Chance's Agnus Dei, not that it's the deepest reading, but it's gorgeous. Jennifer Lane in person did a wonderful reading of this, with the ABS.

Andrys Basten wrote (September 17, 1999):

< Patrik Enander wrote: Another one-to-a-part performance I'm very interested is American Bach Soloists/Jeffery Thomas (who has sung with Rifkin) on Koch. I have two CDís with Bach cantatas with this ensemble. I was quite a shock when I heard them the first time, but I have come to enjoy them very much. >

On the Cantata records, at least the two I have in my hand, they list only the soloists but their choir listings include other people, with an average of 3 to a part. Still, this will have quite a different sound, as you say, when you're used to full choirs in these works.

I was there for both Bach b minor mass concerts the year they recorded that one, and was there for the Kyrie portion of the recording as well as the final movements. They used about 20-24 singers as I remember, several on a part most of the time, though occasionally they might have one on a part, though I don't remember that. The soloists doubled as chorus singers.

< I read a "review" on jsbach.org where someone wrote that their Mass was the most satisfying Bach record he heard during 40 years of listening of Bach's music! >

The recording,, relative to the live performances, is a more tired-sounding one, but certainly has most of the qualities the live ones did. In person, they produced so much beauty and energy (in the best performances I've ever heard of this work) that, in a church at the end of this long work, the audience burst into shouts and foot-stamping, something you rarely hear after this work is over. I once heard Shaw conduct it here and the audience was almost wholly asleep by the end, with hardly enough energy to applaud, quick to just leave.

But the ABS performance audience reacted more like the audience in a football stadium. The music danced, and it wept. The 20-24 singers, all professional and very focused, sang lines that seemed to enter your very being. Unfortunately, the recording is miked too closely so that you hear individual voices and flaws and, because of the fatigue syndrome after the actual performances, there is some flatting (both in pitch and in energy) where there wasn't in the original. I can say this with confidence as I know people who were at the concerts with audio recorders and in one case a camcorder. But the CD set is one of the best recordings out there and a real achievement.

Kevin Sutton wrote (September 17, 1999):

<< Kevin Sutton wrote: The B minor mass has no liturgical significance. It is a show piece which Bach compoesed for no intention other than to get a job. >>

< Deryk Barker wrote: Ah, which job would this be Kevin? Given that the work was assembled by Bach from largely previously existing movements - the Sanctus from 1724, the Kyrie and Gloria from 1733 - and that the last four pieces (according the Grove) were added in 1748-9, only a year or two before Bach's death, it seems unlikely. >

The job would be Dresden Kappellmeister and it is clearly documented that a good portion of the mass was sent to Dresden in the hopes of receiving the appointment there. I will look up the particulars later, as I don't have time at present, but I am certain that this was the case.

Walter Meyer wrote (September 18, 1999):

<< Patrik Enander wrote: Has anyone checked out the on-going Koopman series. ... >>

< Donald Satz wrote: ... As for cost, I try no to think about it; denial has much going for it. >

So far I've been successful getting the Koopman cantatas (Vols. 1-7) at cut rate prices when BMG has its sales.

Patrik Enander wrote (September 19, 1999):

< Don wrote: I'm collecting the Koopman series and find it excellent with one exception. >

If I would change my mind, or find a well of money, which volume would you recommend to start with.

Deryk Barker wrote (September 18, 1999):

<<< Kevin Sutton wrote: The B minor mass has no liturgical significance. It is a show piece which Bach compoesed for no intention other than to get a job. >>>

<< Deryk Barker wrote: Ah, which job would this be Kevin? ... >>

< Kevin Sutton The job would be Dresden Kappellmeister and it is clearly documented that a good portion of the mass was sent to Dresden in the hopes of receiving the appointment there. I will look up the particulars later, as I don't >have time at present, but I am certain that this was the case. >

Confusion explained. For the Dresden job, for which he applied in July 1733 IIRC, he sent his recently completed Missa Brevis, which consisted only of the Kyrie and Gloria.

So, I don't think we can say that he compthe B minor Mass (or what we understand by the term today) for the job. But he did compose some of it.

Johan van Veen wrote (September 18, 1999):

[To Kevin Sutton] As far as I know he sent the movements from 1724 and 1733 to Dresden, not the complete mass when it was finished.

Richard Todd wrote (September 17, 1999):

[To Kevin Sutton] Kevin is correct; Bach got the job too. The contacts he made as a result eventually served him well in an interesting way. When the pettiness and interference of the Leipzig petty bureaucracy eventually became insufferable, he appealed to his friends at court. They appear to have to have applied enough pressure in the right places that Bach was able to do more or less as he wished for the remainder of his career.

Donald Satz wrote (September 19, 1999):

< Patrik Enander wrote concerning the Koopman/Bach Cantata series: If I would change my mind, or find a well of money, which volume would you recommend to start with. >

I'd start with volume 4 which I believe is the first volume not including Barbara Schlick. Just in case anyone gets offended about my negative opinion of Schlick, there are many reviewers who consider her an excellent singer/interpreter of Baroque music including Bach's. She certainly has an unusual voice, so it's reasonable that opinions would be quite varied.

Kevin Sutton wrote (September 19, 1999):

< Richard Todd wrote: Kevin is correct; Bach got the job too. The contacts he made as a result eventually served him well in an interesting way. When the pettiness and interference of the Leipzig petty bureaucracy eventually became insufferable, he appealed to his friends at court. They appear to have to have applied enough pressure in the right places that Bach was able to do more or less as he wished for the remainder of his career. >

Wrong! He did not get the job, and was very disappointed by the matter. I quote from Christoph Wolff:

"Work with his Collegium Musicum must often have been, for Bach, a welcome diversion from the difficulties which loomed up in the church music field and of which neither the school authorities nor the city council showed any real understanding. His position was indeed considerably improved by his nomination as court composer to the king of Poland and the elector of Saxon in 1736 (as a consequence of his dedication of the Kyrie and Gloria in the Missa in b minor in 1733 to the king in Dresden); yet this removed no problems from his path, as for example the long smoldering dispute about the prefects, in which Bach insisted on his right to appoint the leader of the school choral group himself."

The nomination to the position temporarily put the fear of God into the town council, however, Bach never worked at the court in Dresden except perhaps in a purely token honorific sense, as he is known to have composed a few congratulatory cantatas for the Elector during his later years in Leipzig.

To say that Bach was "able to do whatever he wished" is simply incorrect. Instead he found an "out" as it were by directing the Collegium as a diversion from the day to day pettiness of the Leipzig government which dogged him for years.

Donald Satz wrote (September 19, 1999):

< Walter Meyer wrote: So far I've been successful getting the Koopman cantatas (Vols. 1-7) at cut rate prices when BMG has its sales. >

But, Walter, that doesn't allow for instant gratification. I've got the patience of Job when necessary, but when it's new recordings I want, I'm like a bear on honey.

Mats Norrman wrote (September 18, 1999):

< Patrik Enander wrote: I for one find them too expensive, even though Goteborg is known to have the cheapest CDís in northen Europe! >

And I wonder what this depends on. I was in Goeteborg not long ago and of course I visited some CD stores. I bought among other things Walter Braunfels opera "Die Voegel" for 338SEK. An opera at this price on have to pay +500SEKs for in Stockholm. (For your info: US$1=ca8SEK). I couldn't see however that instrumental music was mcuh cheaper. This seems to go for opera. I wonder: why? And if they sell more due to the lower price in Goeteborg.

Julia Werthimer wrote (September 20, 2001):

Prompted largely by Don Satz, I've just acquired the Gardiner recording, which I am very pleased with: I love its clarity.

But while I was in Borders I saw another recording of the Mass: a BBC recording conducted by Enesco and featuring Kathleen Ferrier. Has anyone come across this? Should I have snapped it up?

Bill Walsh wrote (September 20, 2001):

I wonder if anyone has seen the New Harmonia Mundi 20 disk Bach offering - primarily choral, at $7.99 to $6.67 depending on the number ordered. Their mass, for example, is as follows:

HMX2951326 1XCD Mass in B minor Zomer, Gens, Scholl, Pregardien, Kooy, Muller-Brachmann, La Chapelle Royale, Collegium Vocale/Herreweghe

".....Scholl crowns the performance with one of the most ravishing accounts of the Agnus Dei I have ever heard. The set is worth buying for this alone." - The Sunday Times

"...a contemplative performance in which beauty of tone and phrasing take pride of place." - The Guardian

Is anyone familiar with this recording? I would like recommendations on the rest of the offering if possible.

Deryk Barker wrote (September 20, 2001):

< Julia Werthimer wrote: Prompted largely by Don Satz, I've just acquired the Gardiner recording, which I am very pleased with: I love its clarity. But while I was in Borders I saw another recording of the Mass: a BBC recording conducted by Enesco and featuring Kathleen Ferrier. Has anyone come across this? Should I have snapped it up? >

If you love the Gardiner you may want to avoid this. I guess you could call it a "Romantic" interpretation. Musical as hell though..

Walter Meyer wrote (September 20, 2001):

< Julia Werthimer wrote: But while I was in Borders I saw another recording of the Mass: a BBC recording conducted by Enesco and featuring Kathleen Ferrier. Has anyone come across this? Should I have snapped it up? >

I haven't heard it, but if you like the b minor enough to own more than one performance (I suspect you have at least one recording already) and the Enesco/Ferrier wasn't overpriced by your standards, I don't see how you could have passed it up!

John Smyth (September 20, 2001):

Well, since everyone from Wes and Donald to Mimi, Steve and Derek swear by the Mass in B minor; I decided to pick it up. Among versions available, (used), were the Herreweghe, Marriner, Gardiner, and Bruggen. More on my choice later.

There is definitely much for the romantically inclined in this music. The Kyrie fugue subject has a touching and contrite poignancy, and I found the the chord progressions in the Qui tollis surprisingly modern-sounding. The Agnus Dei is a beauty.

The performance? Marriner, (with Iona Brown as concertmaster), in his heyday--'77. Soloists include Marshall, Baker, Tear, and Ramey. (I remembered Derek didn't care for the Gardiner, the choir is too distant in the Bruggen, and Herreweghe just never looks fun in his pictures.) Yes, modern instruments, but the Gramophone reports that the bounds of taste are never overstepped, and this listener found the articulation of both the choir and the instrumentalists to be sufficiently precise and incisive.

There were times when I wished that the dialogue between solists and instrumentalist was a little more "tangy" and animated, (as these moments can be in Gardiner's "Matthew's Passion); and sometimes, such as when the flute comes in at the beginning of the Qui Tollis, I am uncomfortably reminded of Respihi's "Ancient Airs and Dances"--maybe there is something to this HIP stuff. (Though I sure appreciate the resonance the modern basses lend to those chord progressions in the Qui Tollis.)

Patrick Enander wrote (September 21, 2001):

<< Patrik Enander wrote: I for one find them too expensive, even though Goteborg is known to have the cheapest cd:s in northen Europe! >>

< Mats N wrote. And I wonder what this depends on. I was in Goeteborg not long ago and of course I visited some CD stores. I bought among other things Walter Braunfels opera "Die Voegel" for 338SEK. >

It is called competition? Ons store started 20 years ago, and others have followed. I don't know if the sell more, I for one would buy less, or buy more Naxos


The Lithurgy of Bachís B-minor Mass

D. Stephen Heersink (October 14, 1999):

I apologize for not appending these comments sooner to the discussion of the "liturgical" merits of Bach's B-minor Mass.

That the Mass is an anomaly is granted. No Ordinary of the Mass that takes nearly three hours to perform can be seriously considered for liturgical use. Despite its largesse making the Mass liturgically improbable, the Mass remains essentially a "liturgical" composition. And I want to suggest that listening to the Mass as a liturgical artifact makes for a much more interesting piece than simply as a performance of ordinary interest.

Bach's nuance of tone, tenor, textures, and color at given times accompanying certain words and phrases makes it abundantly clear that HE, Bach, at least, understood that the composition is necessarily and foremost a liturgical composition. Must one know these nuances to appreciate the magnificence of the work? Obviously not. Yet, knowing the drama of the Credo, the solemnity of the Sanctus, the piety of the Agnus Dei, and other such features certainly enhances the musical experience.

Many of Bach's nuances can be found in other Mass compositions from Palestrina to Haydn, from Mozart to Dvorak. Take, for example, the Sanctus. This angelic hymn is comprised of two elements: The first, the angelic hymn of praise to God for all eternity is from the OT and echoed in Revelation; and the second, the blessedness that opens the vaults of heaven to "the One who comes in the Name of the Lord," is introduced in the Psalms and find their fulfillment of Christ's entry into Jerusalem to embark on his Passion. The first part is entirely otherworldly, while the second part contributes to the remembrance of Christ's opening the doors to the kingdom of heaven by his self-given sacrifice.

There is much more involved than the most fundamental landscape I paint above, but, in order to appreciate Bach's masterpiece for what it truly is, it is more than "helpful" to know what the individual parts mean, and how they are deployed spiritually, to accomplish in its entirety the sublime and sacred solemnity they elicit.

Donald Satz wrote (October 15, 1999):

< Stephen Heersink wrote: And I want to suggest that listening to the Mass as a liturgical artifact makes for a much more interesting piece than simply as a performance of ordinary interest. >

I'm sure it does for Stephen, but it would ruin my enjoyment. I find Bach's Mass of extraordinary interest in that the music is masterful and it creates within me images and more in a fashion similar to those I described concerning the WTC, Book 1. Some of those images do have a religious aura, but are far different than what would be found in the liturgical text. I think that what I get from the Mass is roughly equal in intensity and spirituality to what a religous person would get from the work (assuming that he/she went below the surface of the music).

I get most of my sense of spirituality from music, nature, and the stages of life. I'm well satisfied. I assume Stephen is as well. Life's great, and I'm buying a new suit tomorrow. But tonight, I'm listening to Robert King's new recording of Händel's L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato and the Vanska recording of the Lemminkainen Suite by Sibelius. By the time you read this, I'll be walking downtown in my new clothes catching all those enticing glances from the fine ladies in the vicinity and whistling some irresistible tunes that stop them in their tracks. Don and his music are hard to resist. Bye - I think I'll see what my wife is doing. No hard feelings, Stephen. The main thing is that we are deeply moved by the music we listen to, regardless of how we get there.

Richard Pennycuick wrote (October 16, 1999):

< Don Satz was going to be: ...listening to Robert King's new recording of Händel's L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato and the Vanska recording of the Lemminkainen Suite by Sibelius. >

The excerpt from the Händel on the Gramophone sampler sounded interesting, and I've enthused about the Sibelius in earlier posts, so I'd be interested in your thoughts on both of these, please, Don.

Donald Satz wrote (October 17, 1999):

[To Richard Pennycuick] Well, I don't have anything to say about the Vanska recording at this time, since I have not listened yet. I will make a point to report on it.

The King/Händel recording is very good: the best conducting you could want, very good soloists, and an excellent recorded sound. Händel's music is very good as well, but none of the pieces would I call among my favorite. Now I don't want to turn anyone off the work; I enjoyed it and am glad to have it and will be playing it plenty. It's good Händel. But, for those who might be starting a Händel vocal works collection, there's richer areas to tap first: Flavio, Rinaldo, Agrippina, Alexander Balus, Messiah, Apollo e Daphne, Ariodante, Orlando, Susanna, Samson, and Ottone (all based on personal taste). For those of us who want every Händel vocal work which is performed well or better, the recording is a must.


Bachís Mass in B minor

John Parker wrote (November 22, 1999):

BMG is offering Bach's Mass in B Minor this month conducted by Helmuth Rilling. I have Gardiner's version and I have always found it disappointing, especially for a piece of music that once was praised as the greatest work of all ages. Bloodless is a term that comes to mind.

I replaced my St. Matthew's Passion, a boring truncated version conducted by Furtwangler, with one conducted by Rilling and I was enthralled. Am I likely to have such an experience with this version of the Mass in B Minor?

Kevin Sutton wrote (November 23, 1999):

[To John Parker] Yes indeed you will. I have nothing but respect for the way Rilling gets to the heart of Bach. It's just plain ole great music making. Enjoy!

Donald Satz wrote (November 23, 1999):

< John Parker wrote: I replaced my St. Matthew Passion, a boring truncated version conducted by Furtwängler, with one conducted by Rilling and I was enthralled. Am I likely to have such an experience with this version of the Mass in B Minor? >

You might think I'm going to criticize Rilling and his modern instrument accounts of Bach. Wrong. I've heard some of both recordings, and Rilling strikes me as having a similar approach to both works. So, the answer is yes.

< I have Gardiner's version and I have always found it disappointing, especially for a piece of music that once was praised as the greatest work of all ages. Bloodless is a term that comes to mind. >

I wouldn't agree, but I could understand "bloodless" being applied to Gardiner's Mozart symphony recordings. I can't comprehend at all these type of comments concerning Gardiner's/Bach's Mass in B minor. It's an exhilarating performance - I get hyped up just thinking about it.

Steven Martin wrote (November 24, 1999):

While on the subject of B Minor Mass'. RCA has just reissued an older recording by Robert Shaw. I have Shaw's remake and while it had its moments, all in all I find it dull. I am curious how Shaw's earlier attempt holds up.

Steven Schwartz wrote (November 25, 1999):

I liked the more recent Shaw on Telarc, but the older recording on RCA was much livelier. It also has the concertato-ripieno divisions in many of the choral numbers (I believe it was the first to do this). At any rate, thanks for alerting us to this release.

Continue to Part 3


 

Mass in B minor BWV 232: Details
Recordings:
1900-1949 | 1950-1959 | 1960-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-2009 | 2010-2019 | Individual Movements
General Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17
Systematic Discussions:
Part 1: Kyrie | Part 2: Gloria | Part 3: Credo | Part 4: Sanctus | Part 5: Agnus Dei | Part 6: Early Recordings | Part 7: Summary
Individual Recordings:
BWV 232 - C. Abbado | BWV 232 - Anonymous | BWV 232 - G.C. Biller | BWV 232 - F. Brüggen | BWV 232 - J. Butt | BWV 232 - S. Celibidache | BWV 232 - M. Corboz | BWV 232 - A. Eby | BWV 232 - G. Enescu | BWV 232 - E. Ericson | BWV 232 - D. Fasolis | BWV 232 - J.E. Gardiner | BWV 232 - C.M. Giulini | BWV 232 - N. Harnoncourt | BWV 232 - T. Hengelbrock | BWV 232 - P. Herreweghe | BWV 232 - R. Hickox | BWV 232 - R. Jacobs | BWV 232 - E. Jochum | BWV 232 - Ifor Jones | BWV 232 - K. Junghänel & Cantus Cölln | BWV 232 - H.v. Karajan | BWV 232 - R. King | BWV 232 - O. Klemperer | BWV 232 - S. Kuijken | BWV 232 - G. Leonhardt | BWV 232 - P. McCreesh | BWV 232 - M. Minkowski | BWV 232 - H. Müller-Bruhl | BWV 232 - S. Ozawa | BWV 232 - M. Pearlman | BWV 232 - K. Richter | BWV 232 - J. Rifkin | BWV 232 - H. Rilling | BWV 232 - H. Scherchen | BWV 232 - P. Schreier | BWV 232 - R. Shaw | BWV 232 - G. Solti | BWV 232 - M. Suzuki | BWV 232 - J. Thomas & ABS | BWV 232 - K. Thomas | BWV 232 - J.v. Veldhoven
Articles:
Mass in B Minor, BWV 232 [T. Noel Towe] | Bachís B minor Mass on Period Instruments [D. Satz] | Like Father, Like Son [B. Pehrson]

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Last update: żMarch 31, 2004 ż23:49:07