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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
Conducted by Robert King

V-1

Bach: Mass in B minor

Mass in B minor BWV 232

Robert King

Tölzer Knabenchor / The King’s Consort

Boy Sopranos: Matthias Ritter, Manuel Mrasek; Boy Altos: Matthias Schloderer, Maximilian Fraas; Tenor: Anthony Rolfe-Johnson; Bass: Michael George

Hyperion 67201

Sep 27 - Oct 2, 1996

2-CD / TT: 100:20

Buy this album at: Amazon.com | Amazon.com

King’s Recording of the Bach B Minor Mass

Donald Satz wrote (April 4, 1999):
Primarily based on a list member recommendation, I acquired Bach's B Minor Mass conducted by Robert King on Hyperion. Although I can't say that King blows away the competition as I feel he does in Handel, this is a very good performance with superb recorded sound. Gardiner has been my benchmark for the Mass, and I'd put King on his level. What I still don't appreciate is that King does not employ female soloists. Does anyone else on the list have a problem with that aspect of the performance?

Overall, I'm glad I have the King recording. It's easily one of the best Bach B Minor Masses I've heard.

John Smyth wrote (April 11, 1999):
My friend Tom Davey introduced me to Bach's Trio Sonatas, (orchestrated), on Hyperion with Robert King. Very gratifying music. Check it out.

Tom Davey wrote (April 11, 1999):
John Smyth writes:
< My friend Tom Davey introduced me to Bach's Trio Sonatas, (orchestrated), on Hyperion with Robert King. Very gratifying music. Check it out. >
I should hasten to add that, as good as King is, my favorite performances of the Trio Sonatas are by E. Power Biggs on a pedal harpsichord. "Biggs?!" I hear the assembled masses cry. But I'm not kidding. These are wonderful performances on a massive, colorful, faux-historic harpsichord.

David Stewart wrote (April 11, 1999):
Donald Satz wrote:
< Primarily based on a list member recommendation, >
At your service...

< What I still don't appreciate is that King does not employ female soloists. Does anyone else on the list have a problem with that aspect of the performance? >
Well, whether or not you appreciate it it is correct. Bach would have used all male soloists. Summat about voices breaking later at that time - and women not being involved in church services. But it grows on you. In fact a lot of things seem at first wrong (speed of laudamus for example) but you get used to it and tend to find most else a bit unconvincing.

Certainly knocks the socks off the dull as dishwater Münchinger rendition.

Kar-Ming Chong wrote (April 12, 1999):
Donald Satz wrote:
< What I still don't appreciate is that King does not employ female soloists. Does anyone else on the list have a problem with that aspect of the performance? >
Well, that's HIP for you - "warts and all". I think the male voices in Bach's time comes from accomplished young male singers (i.e., possibly trained and groomed from a very tender age) and maybe, to a certain extent, the use of castrati. Can anyone verified this information?

Billy Kitson wrote (April 13, 1999):
Kar-Ming Chong wrote:
< Well, that's HIP for you - "warts and all". I think the male voices in Bach's time comes from accomplished young male singers (i.e., possibly trained and groomed from a very tender age) and maybe, to a certain extent, the use of castrati. Can anyone verified this information? >
I aint sure; But I do Not think "Pietist Lutheran Germany" of JSB's Day would have "been into" Castrati = probably seen as an "RC+Italianate thing"?? They put JSB under House arrest for Courting Wife# 02 in the Church = where else could he and she have "Canoodled" = I can Not guess, with his work load; and family??

Denis Fodor wrote (April 14, 1999):
Donald Satz wrote:
< What I still don't appreciate is that King does not employ female soloists. Does anyone else on the list have a problem with that aspect of the performance? >
Not here. Back in Bach's day the socially correct role of women was pretty much limited to Kinder, Kueche, Kirche. For a HIP band striving for historical correctness, today's political correctness must, alas, be superseded. Such is the stuff of music's wonderful agony.

Walter Meyer wrote (April 15, 1999):
[To Denis Fodor] Ah, Kirche! Do I detect an irony here?

William Jenks wrote (April 15, 1999):
Donald Satz wrote:
<< What I still don't appreciate is that King does not employ female soloists. Does anyone else on the list have a problem with that aspect >>of the performance? >>
Denis Fodor replies:
< Not here. Back in Bach's day the socially correct role of women was pretty much limited to Kinder, Kueche, Kirche. For a HIP band striving for historical correctness, today's political correctness must, alas, be superseded. Such is the stuff of music's wonderful agony. >
Good Grief! I'm not a performing musician of any sort, so maybe I'm out of the loop.

Unless the HIP performance is more important than the HIP musicianship, that's absurd. Last I knew, for example, AAM had female players.

We could apply that standard to lots of different criteria (race, religion....) To reduce the argument to absurdity, in Bach's day, there were very few soloists who had survived appendicitis or any of a huge list of other diseases. Does that disqualify a soloist too?

Finally, unless your PC crowd is more virulent than the ones I know, they don't complain at, say, "HIP Shakespeare" where all the parts are played by men and this is an integral part of the performance...so let's not get out of hand about the Great Significance of Music Over Political Correctness.

My personal view is that an HIP band that insists on all male soloists is putting on a musical play, not a concert. Fine, I say, but I'm more interested in a concert.

Feeling just a little more PC than I did half an hour ago,:-)

Aaron J. Rabushka wrote (April 14, 1999):
Note that the gender of an instrumental player is irrelevant to the sound of the music--the gender of a singer is often quite important.

David Stewart wrote (April 16, 1999):
Denis Fodor wrote:
< Not here. Back in Bach's day the socially correct role of women was pretty much limited to Kinder, Kueche, Kirche. For a HIP band striving for historical correctness, today's political correctness must, alas, be superseded. Such is the stuff of music's wonderful agony. >
The thing is that Bach's music needs the cleanness to it that requires a voice without vibrato. It should be possible to use female soloists but only people like Emma Kirkby. But I can't really fault the boy soloist in the King Recording - he hits every note perfectly.

 

Haunted by B-Minor Recording

Boyd Pehrson wrote (June 22, 2001):
I have been now, for sometime haunted by a certain recording of the B-Minor Mass. No, it is not the nightmare of the von Karajan recording. It is a recording that has...dare I say, enchanted me? I find the vocal reference of the Agnus Dei now inextricably connected to the voice of a boy- one Maximilian Fraas, a Tölzer Knabenchor soloist. The von Karajan I have placed low in the stack for sometime. Now I have watched with mixed horror and delight as this Robert King direction of the Tölzer Knabenchor and the Choir of the King's Consort has risen. Risen past the Jochum, risen past the Solti, the Enescu (dear god, not the Enescu), risen past the Shaw...how can this be? Who is next Rilling? of course, I easily placed it above the Rilling. What is happening?Is it boy infatuation? Impossible. Through a calm anaylisis I have been able to reduce the problem to a few "disturbing" elements. First, this is the first and only all-male recording of the B-Minor Mass to my knowledge, so, naturally, it is a significant and essential contribution to any serious Bach collection. Second, the authoritarian soprano vibrato is becoming a passé of romanticism, I figure that romanticism slayed its dragons, why not return the favour? Third, Bach needs a fresh face, a new look, everything is moving faster. But how could a few German boys supplant Nancy Argenta, Lois Marshall and Helen Donath? Unthinkable. Yet, the Et in unum Dominum soprano/alto duet of two other Tölzer boys- Matthias Ritter and Matthias Schloderer has been a source of delectable joy that is missing in the living room drapery of the adult soprano voice. The architecture of Bach calls for clarity, lightness and an etheral tone. Robert King directs his King's Consort to temper the horns, giving the choir a freespace to sing with clarity and delicateness in top notes. Bach bass line is here enriched following perhaps direction from Horowitz, who said of Mozart, who said of Bach, that the base-line is the foundation of musical architecture. I think most criticism of lack of vivacity on this recording has to do mostly with King's tempering of the horns. Robert King's direction speaks to the work as a whole, and is summed up in the performance of the final chorus Dona Nobis Pacem. The top notes here are refined and delicately tapered, not foreshortened as in the performances that allow for authoritarian adult sopran breathing. The Agnus Dei solo by Maximilian Fraas still haunts me. Robert King's all male recording has the three great faetures of the unchanged male voice: clarity, lack of vibrato, and a hauntedness that speaks of the etheral. Bach's B-Minor is preganant with the Numinous, and etheral boys voices haunt this recording. This 1996 CD recording is becoming increasingly unavailable, to the delight of critics and to the dismay of all collectors of great Bach recordings!

Robert Sherman wrote (June 26, 2001):
[To Boyd Pehrson] Could you explain what you mean by "tempering of the horns?"

Boyd Pehrson wrote (June 22, 2001):
[To Robert Sherman] Admittedly, that is a misleading choice of words on my part. My over-liberal use of "temper" and the vague use of "horns" are not acceptable and I stray from my point. I was referring to the "balance" of the wind instruments versus the vocal performance. I was speaking rather about the loudness of the wind instruments in the recording balanced against the overall texture, particularly with regard to the trumpets, oboes and vocals. Regarding the oboes- increasing their loudness, and decreasing the loudness of more prominent instruments such as the trumpet. I think for some who are used to trumpet "acting like trumpet," with its penetrating and dominating effects, this recording may have a disproportionality they are not accustomed to. The oboes seem to have a more natural human tone quality that produce subtle nuances and colors, so I think the increased expression of the oboes by reducing volume on surrounding instruments tends to reference the vocal texts, and a unity with oboe and vocals becomes clearer. The vocalists, being boys, are providing a subtler and softer- yet clearer high tone. I wonder what disproportionality would be in play had the trumpets free reign to blast fortissimo, as some directors seem to have them doing, thus the delicate boy tones are overridden.I think Robert King displays a great interest in the text of the B-Minor Mass here in this recording. He also hands some damnably demanding solo work to the Tölzer soloists. Rather than another experiment in "historical performance," (to use an overworked phrase) I think this recording should be viewed instead as the use of instrumentarium appropriate for the music, i.e. unchanged male voice. The approach of proper instruments for the music is worthwhile for the comprehension and appreciation we may gain from it. Especially in an age that increasingly is losing its sense of what the great composers meant to convey in their music. As well, I wonder what compensations are worked into the performance of the B-Minor Mass when non-original instruments such as adult sopranos are introduced. The heavy vibrato and thick texture of an adult soprano must cause some necessary adjustments to interpretation. So, my impression that Robert King is balancing the textures, having all treble soloists, may be true(maybe not), but I think the over-all recording mentioned here has been constantly causing me to rethink my initial reservations about it. By the way, the trumpeter is directed full forte during the last bars of the Cum Sancto Spiritu! And Crispian Steele-Perkins handles it marvellously!

Bob Sherman wrote (June 22, 2001):
[To Boyd Pehrson] I haven't heard the recording, but I'm not surprised at your comment on Steele-Perkins' trumpet rising to full forte. He is the only player in my experience who is able to get a significant dynamic range out of a valveless trumpet. There are other aspects of his playing that aren't so good, but no need to go into them here.

I agree with you about modern trumpeters frequently playing much too loud in the b minor. The worst offender is Adolf Scherbaum in the otherwise admirable Richter recording with Maria Stader. The thing is, that kind of playing is entirely unnecessary. It's bad taste from the trumpeter, the conductor, or both. John Wilbraham with Marriner, for example, achieves an excellent blend, while rising to a thrilling fortissimo when appropriate.

Boyd Pehrson wrote (June 23, 2001):
Bob Sherman wrote:
< John Wilbraham with Marriner, for example, achieves an excellent blend, while rising to a thrilling fortissimo when appropriate. >
Thanks for the tip! I have a lot of respect for Marriner's work and I really enjoy Händel and Purcell, so doubtless I have heard the combination Wilbraham and Marriner at some point. If you have any suggestions on recordings of the two, please do recommend!

Diederik Peters wrote (June 23, 2001):
[To Boyd Pehrson] I just ordered it last week from JPC.

Bob Sherman wrote (June 22, 2001):
[To Boyd Pehrson] The recording I had in mind was Marriner's b minor Mass. Wilbraham and his colleagues get just the right balance, and play quite well to boot. I find the entire recording to be quite satisfying. Unfortunately I don't see it listed anymore with Amazon, Tower, or Berkshire. But if you can find one around, it's well worth the price.

I also recommend Mariner's 1992 Messiah recording (Philips 434 695-2) with Mark Bennett playing trumpet. This is, with the possible exception of George Eskdale with Scherchen in 1954, by far the best Messiah trumpeting I've heard, and I have 29 Messiahs on hand. The mystery is why others don't play as well, because the trumpet part really isn't that hard except for the endurance in "The Trumpet Shall Sound". Marriner/Bennett's "Glory to God" and "Hallelujah" are my all-time favorite versions, and fortunately the rest of the performers are up to the level of Bennett's brilliant trumpet, as is Marriner's conducting.

I wish I could say the same about "The Trumpet Shall Sound", but unfortunately bass Robert Lloyd is lumbering, covered, and tubby. I still have yet to find a TTSS that combines a great bass with a great trumpet. I've tried to do a combined performance where I splice Bennett's exposed parts together with Terfel's or Herincx' singing, but that doesn't work.

 

BMM from Robert King - ?

Tom Dent wrote (May 29, 2005):
My local CD store has this recording - an intriguing one from the vocal standpoint. While I am all in favour of boy altos, etc., my question is not about that, but rather about the very crucial instrumental / conductorial contributions. Does the King's Consort performance of this work have any distinguishing features besides the unique disposition of the choir and soloists? Currently the archives of Bach-cantatas.com are inconclusive.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (May 30, 2005):
[To Tom Dent] Since there has been no response, your most ignorant servant shall note that there is a 35 member orchestra and that the boys are not always in tune and that one of the boy soloists (I forget which) has a difficult time. Given all those caveats, I totally find this a wonderful recording and return to it often enough.

It is a just a smashing experience as a whole.

 

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] | Bach’s B minor Mass on Period Instruments [D. Satz] | Like Father, Like Son [B. Pehrson]

Robert King: Short Biography | The King’s Consort | Recordings of Vocal Works | Recordings of Instrumental Works
Individual Recordings:
Bach Cantatas 54, 169, 170 (for Alto) - R. King | BWV 232 - R. King

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

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Last update: ýSeptember 25, 2009 ý12:21:53