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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 Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt (previously Anonymous Conductor)


Bach: Mass in B Minor
Back from the Shadows - Vol. 2: Bach’s Mass in B minor


Mass in B minor BWV 232

Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt

Choir of the NWDR Hamburg / Symphony Orchestra of NWDR (The Cathedral Choir and Symphony Orchestra)

Soprano: Margot Guilleaume; Alto: Gertrude Pitzinger; Tenor: Walter Geisler; Bass: Josef Greindl

Gramophone / Allegro / Royale 1297-1299
Tahra 708-709

Mar 19-20, 1950

3-LP / TT:
2-CD / TT:

Recorded in the Musikhalle of Hamburg, Germany for a broadcast in 1950 via NWDR Hamburg.
For many years this recording was thought to be by Anonymous conductor, the Cathedral Choir and Symphony Orchestra and Anonymous soloists.

Unknown B Minor Mass recording

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (May 26, 2005):
I never forward posts and object to the practice but I do believe in the present case someone here may have some information for Mr. Hood whom I am copying.

Tom Hood wrote:
I have recently aquired a Royale LP of Rigoletto highlights. The recording has been very poorly edited but the performances are rather good. As usual the artists listed are totally unknown & this leads me to believe that the names have been changed to hide the true source of the recording.

I have the same problem with Royale1297/98/99 which is a recording of a live performance of the Bach B Minor Mass.

It is a great performance (if the lable is to believed) by a group of unknown artists. I know there has been some research published in The ARSC Journal on the real singers who appeared on the Royale lable but these recordings are not mentioned. Does anyone out there have any information?

Thank You

Teri Noel Towe wrote (May 26, 2005):
[To Tom Hood] The Royale and the "Gramophone" pseudonymous recordings of the Mass in B Minor are, coll;ectively, one of the greatest enigmas in the Bach discographies. I, too, recently acquired a copy of the Royale recording, which was unfindable 15 years ago when I began to put together the critical discography of the Mass that I contributed to Alan Blyth's anthology, Choral Music on Records. I did, however, write about the "Gramophone" set. Here, for what little it may be worth to you and the other subscribers to the List, is what I had to say about it:

The greatest question mark in the discography of the Mass in B Minor is the anonymous recording that appeared in the United States in the mid 1950s on the Gramophone (no relation to His Master's Voice) label. Neither the conductor nor the soloists are identified; the performance is ascribed simply to The Cathedral Choir and Symphony Orchestra. [24] On the basis of the pronunciations of words like "coeli", one would surmise that the performance is German in origin, and it is almost certainly a recording of a radio broadcast. Normally, recordings like this can be given short shrift in an article of this kind, but this set is the exception that proves the rule, for it fortuitously preserves an excellent, majestically paced "Romantic" interpretation of singular vision, commitment, and individuality, performed by a large chorus and orchestra and an exceptionally fine quintet of soloists. (There are two basses, and the soprano sounds suspiciously like Erna Berger.) Who was responsible for this magnificent reading is anybody's educated guess, but is it possible that this is a recording of an otherwise undocumented broadcast of the B Minor Mass conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler? One thing is certain; it does not closely resemble the interpretations of any of the conductors who made "commercial" recordings of the Mass during this period.

Because part of my LP collection currently is in storage and for practical purposes inaccessible, I am not yet able to compare the Royale and the "Gramophone" recordings to determine if they are the same pseudonymous performance, but I suspect that they are.

The contemporaneous "Balzer" St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) on Royale is, in fact, the same broadcast performance conducted by Fritz Lehmann, that currently is available on Music & Arts CDs. The anonymous performance on "Gramophone" is also the Fritz Lehmann. Logic would suggest that the same kind of relationship exists between the "Gramophone" set and the Royale one.

From time to time, I have thought about trying to determine if there is a documented broadcast from that period that someone took down off the air and then used as the basis for the "Balzer" recordings.

You have mentioned Ernest Lumpe's magnificent and invaluable article, Pseudonymous Performers on Early LP Records: An Update, which is available on line at: I don't understand why the Royale recording of the Mass is not there, but Mr. Lumpe does discuss the anonymous performance on Gramophone, at least those portions of it that were used on the recording of excerpts that surely was derived from it:

Gramophone 2037: Bach Mass in B minor / St.Matthew Passion ('excerpts") (1953) "Varsity Chorale Ensemble" (no additional information given) The excerpts from the Mass in B Minor are unidentified. The portions from the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) are identical to the live 1949 performance captured on Vox DLP 6070 and issued completely on Royale 1290-93 (see above). Again, the inspected Varsity pressing is wrapped in a Gramophone sleeve. By the way, whoever chose the name "Joseph Balzer" was a canny customer, to say the least, because he or she selected a pseudonym close to but not the same as the name of a conductor who was active in Germany at the time. This deception ultimately muddied the waters for the discographers. In his invaluable Conductors on Record (Greenwood Press, 1982), John L. Holmes confuses Joseph Balzer with Hugo Balzer, a local German conductor who was born in 1894 and who was Music Director in Dusseldorf and Detmold in the 1930s and 1940s, and credits him as the conductor of the "Joseph Balzer" recordings.

I hope that this information is of some help to you, Mr. Hall.

I regret that I cannot be more helpful, and I regret have neither the time to do the research nor the particular and essential expertise that Mr. Lumpe has in order to do so, because I am as curious as you are to discover to whom this exciting reading of the Mass in B Minor, should be credited.

PS: Yoel: Thanks for making an exception to your rule about not forwarding posts. I am very glad that you did, because I most likely would never have come across Mr. Hood's inquiry had you not done so.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (May 26, 2005):
Teri Noel Towe wrote: < I hope that this information is of some help to you, Mr. Hall. >
What an absolutely fascinating matter and what abounding knowledge you bring to bear on it.

The possibility that it might be Furtwängler is most intriguing. We look forward to your regaining access to your LP collection, the part of which currently being in storage is a situation many of us have experienced ourselves at one time or another.

Gladly will make an exception when the matter cries out for such expertise.


Mass in B minor BWV 232: Details
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
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]

Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt: Short Biography | Recordings of Vocal Works | Arrangements/Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

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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

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Last update: ýJuly 3, 2010 ý07:32:03