Systematic Discussions of Bach’s Other Vocal Works
Mass in B minor BWV 232 – Part 2: Gloria
Discussions in the Week of March 7, 2004Neil Halliday wrote (March 8, 2004):
This 8-movement Gloria is, of course, music of the most marvellous variety and impact.
Richter gives a reading (1961) that is, apart from one movement, remarkable for its grandeur and glory.
Highlights of this recording are the magnificent Gratias (movement 3), with its imperious trumpets and drums at the end; and the exhilirating "Cum Sancto Spiritu" (8), which displays Richter's large forces in full flight, in a demonstration of their remarkable clarity and accuracy.
All the arias are superb.
The one disappointment is the 'Qui tollis' (movement 5) - this wonderful movement in which the semitone intervals in the viola part in bar 4 seem to carry the weight of the world's sins (as does the whole score), while later, the flutes flutter away in - ectasy?
The recording engineering is faulty; recorded at a very low level, it requires one to turn up the volume, but tape hiss then becomes evident. Also, Richter seems to be trying to slow his ensemble down after the entry of the flutes, so much so that the flutes themselves audibly become 'lost' as they try to ascertain the tempo required by the conductor. Otherwise, this could have been a very moving performance, were it not for these faults.
Hickox gives a fine performance of the work, even if his period violins, with their 'brittle' timbre and characteristic articulation, cause me some irritation, especially in the Qui tollis.
The large choir, under Munchinger, tends to drown out the instruments in this same movement; and the rest of the Gloria seems to lack the excitement factor evident in Richter's performance.
(BTW, I don't agree with Brad's assertion that the approx. 12 minute performances of the opening Kyrie (marked 'largo') by Richter, and presumably, the very similar tempo adopted by Hengelbrock, necessarily demonstrate a metre of 8 beats to the bar - it seems quite natural (to me) to 'conduct' both these performances in 4. The quavers are much too fast to be taken as the beat (8 to a bar), even in the Richter, and the articulation of large sections of the score is in pairs of quavers, which emphasizes 4 to a bar, regardless of the speed adopted by the conductor).
Neil Halliday wrote (March 10, 2004):
B minor mass:Gloria: duet, Domine Deus
A marvellous feature to listen out for in this this duet is a scale-like four-note figure, which either ascends or descends, mostly given to the flute. Early on, ar one point this figure moves in contrary motion to the voices; later on, when the music modulates (from G major) to the minor (E minor), we hear an extended descent of the figure on the flute. From the score I noticed how the 'stepping down' is varied by Bach - it is wonderful to be able to hear such detail from a recording.
Richter's sound engineers are at their best here (in stark contrast to their efforts in the following 'Qui tollis', which I commented on in a previous post). The acoustic is right, the clarity of the voices (S,T), in combination with flute, strings and pizzicato continuo, is exemplary.
Mass in B minor BWV 232: Details
Recordings: Until 1950 | 1951-1960 | 1961-1970 | 1971-1980 | 1981-1990 | 1991-2000 | From 2001 | Individual Movements
General Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10
Systematic Discussions: Part 1: Kyrie | Part 2: Gloria | Part 3: Symbolum Niceum | Part 4: Sanctus | Part 5: Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei, Dona Nobis Pacem | Part 6: Early Recordings | Part 7: Summary
Individual Recordings: BWV 232 - Abbado | BWV 232 - Biller | BWV 232 - Brüggen | BWV 232 - Corboz | BWV 232 - Eby | BWV 232 - Ericson | BWV 232 - Fasolis | BWV 232 - Gardiner | BWV 232 - Giulini | BWV 232 - Harnoncourt | BWV 232 - Hengelbrock | BWV 232 - Herreweghe | BWV 232 - Jacobs | BWV 232 - Jochum | BWV 232 - Junghänel & Cantus Cölln | BWV 232 - Karajan | BWV 232 – King | BWV 232 - Klemperer | BWV 232 - Kuijken | BWV 232 - Leonhardt | BWV 232 - Ozawa | BWV 232 - Pearlman | BWV 232 - Richter | BWV 232 - Rifkin | BWV 232 – Rilling | BWV 232 - Scherchen | BWV 232 – Schreier | BWV 232 - Shaw | BWV 232 - Solti | BWV 232 - Suzuki | BWV 232 - J. Thomas & ABS
Articles: Mass in B Minor, BWV 232 (by Teri Noel Towe) | Bach’s B minor Mass on Period Instruments (by Donald Satz) | Like Father, Like Son [By Boyd Pehrson]