Mass in B minor BWV 232
General Discussions - Part 5
Continue from Part 4
Please help me find “Mass in B”
Zachari Uram wrote (March 13, 2001):
I heard EMI/Virgin re-released the Andrew Parrott recording of Bach's "Mass in B Minor" at a budget price (~$24). I have confirmed this is available in Ireland but I can't seem to find it here in the US. The local classical CD shop tried to order it (it was listed in Penguin 2000 catalog) several times but distributor kept telling him it was "not available in USA at this time." Please someone help me I really need this recording. I am in the USA and don't have a car.
Charles Francis wrote (March 13, 2001):
(To Zachary Uram) I got the Virgin Veritas release last year from www.amazon.co.uk (price 18 pounds) - believe me it wasn't easy to find! Hope you secure a cheap version in the US.
James Goodzeit wrote (March 14, 2001):
(To Zachary Uram) To put it bluntly, the availability of Bach discs in the US sucks. Canada is a little bit better, but you really need to go overseas to build any kind of collection, which, unfortunately can get somewhat costly with shipping charges and all. [Fortunately for me, my brother-in-law is going to be stationed in Germany next year :)]
Shaun Ng wrote (March 16, 2001):
(To Zachary Uram) Strange enough, I just bought this recording a few days ago from the local Virgin store in Cardiff, Wales. Was going for 18 pounds. It's an amazing disc, however I think the sound quality is a little dodgy. Was recorded in 1985, and I believe back then they didn't use as great technology as we have nowadays. Nevertheless, an amazing performance/recording.
I settled for this disc only because some else had swiped up the budget Joshua Rifkin version. Anybody have any comments on this recording?
Bach “Mass in B minor”
Don Marco di Chicago wrote (April 15, 2001):
Forgive if this is a cross posting. I would like people's opinions on the Shaw on Telarc and the Gardiner on Archive. I like the Shaw because I can hear everything going on in the piece. However, I like the Gardiner because it is more lively and is a period instrument performance. But, the thing is that for me the sound on the Gardiner is not very rich sounding and I feel that I'm missing much that I am used to hearing on the Shaw. Now alongs comings the Rilling on Hännsler Classic that gets a 10/10 review on Classics Today and I'm wondering how this stacks up to the Gardiner, or if you, the readers can steer me towards something even better.
Sybrand Bakker wrote (April 15, 2001):
(To Don Marco di Chicago) I don't have to hear the Robert Shaw recording to know his ensemble is way too big. So with respect to polyphony I'm quite sure you can't hear everything going on, because it will be blurred by a too big chorus.
As to Gardiner, I know I will step on toes, I've heard quite a few recordings of works by Bach (fortunately I don't own them) and I don't think he has much understanding of Bach. Chances are also his ensemble and chorus is still too big. IMO, if you want to hear solemnity, there are other ways to express it than to hire a big bunch of singers.
If you want a similar performance with more restraint the first recording of Phillippe Herreweghe comes to mind on Harmonia Mundi France, also the Leonhardt recording on Deutsche Harmonia Mundi.
Donald Satz wrote (April 15, 2001):
(To Don Marco di Chicago) I don't think it's possible to hear everything going on in the Shaw recording, given the bloated forces used. I thik very well of the Gardiner recording but I like Parrott on EMI (OVPP) and Pearlman on Telarc just as much. Actually, my favourite B minor Mass comes from Leonhardt on DHM. He has the best choral singing, a great soprano in Isabelle Poulenard, and pacing second to none.
Rilling uses some excellent vocal soloists, but he's still too bloated for my tastes. I would also avoid Hickox on Chandos which has "average" written all over it.
Vesna wrote (April 16, 2001):
I absolutely agree with you Sybrand, for Gardiner. And, don't be affraid to express your opinion. We are not a Bach's sect and I think that we are here just NOT to have an unique opinion.
As for "Mass in B minor" , I have two versions : Karajan's (Deutsche Gramophone, recorded 1974) and Schreier's (Berlin Classics, recorded 1981/82). I like both of them, but I miss Peter Schreier voice in version where he's conducting and not singing. The way he is singing the air "Benedictus, qui venit" et duetto with Gundula Janowitz "Domine Deus" is incomparable with any other Bach's tenor I've heard. If someone want to hear it, I can send you a MP3 of them.
Yesterday I was on the "Mass in B minor BWV 232" with Frans Brüggen conducting , where was supposed to perform Magdalena Kozena, but, unfortunately , she didn't appear again (http://www.pariscope.fr/cgi-o2/MusiqueConcert?131016 ) Instead of her there was :
Véronique Gens (soprano)
Wilke te Brummelstroete (alto),
John Mark Ainsley (ténor),
David Wilson-Johnson (basse).
Actualy, I was there because of M. Kozena who I've never heard live before, but , as before few weeks ago when she was announced in Handel's 'Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disignanno" and she didn't appear, Véronique Gens was there instead of her. I was dissapointed one more time. Is possible to announce the concert twice and not to come? Obviously, it is.
As for tenor, John Mark Ainsley , he was not at all as I expected him to be (I couldn't stop thinking of P. Schreier and missing a lot his profoundness and sensibility). The four singers were behind the orchestra but I couldn't hear them clearly. The orchestra 'Chour et orchestre de Paris' was really great and I got impression that the conductor was capable to handle such a great work. Alto Wilke te Brummelstroete was IMO the best of all ...she reminds on the great Richter period.
That's all from Paris for tonight.
Steven Guy wrote (April 16, 2001):
I have Gardiner's which is a very satisfactory performance - the balance between the choir and instrumental ensemble is good, the trumpets are glorious but not deafening (like in Richter's recording) and the soloists are very good (Michael Chance's Agnus Dei is the best I've heard). I have Herreweghe's first recording on VIRGIN Veritas as well. The solos are good (although I prefer the alto soloist Michael Chance to Herreweghe's Charles Brett) and the small chorus is good but the overall sound is too..... er..... 'timid' for me. The trumpets sound, well, too 'weedy' in the more extroverted choruses. Go for Herreweghe's newer recording if possible.
My other recording is Thomas Hengelbrock's recording with the very nimble and stylish Freiburger Barockorchester with the Balthasar-Neumann-Chor on DHM 05472 77380-2. I like this recording very much. The sound is good and the music is quiet and reflective when it needs to be and joyful and extroverted when it needs to be. This is an HIP recording, made by people who make a living from playing Baroque music.
I heard Karajan's recording on the radio one night (I felt that I should give it the chance of at least one real listen!) and I find that it displays very little understanding of the baroque nature of Bach's music. I would humbly suggest that this recording would many appeal to fans of Herbert von Karajan or people steadfastly opposed to HIP practices on all levels. Karajan may have loved Bach (I'm sure he did) but I think his conducting skills were better utilized in later music (like in Beethoven, Mahler or Berg).
I have listened to Parrott's OVPP recording on FM radio too. I have mixed feelings about this approach but Parrott's recording sounded okay to me. However, it is not a recording that I have felt the overwhelming urge to run out and buy! Perhaps other OVPP recordings are better?
Donald Satz wrote (April 16, 2001):
(To Steven Guy) I'm also not thrilled with Herreweghe's first Mass in B minor. Some of his tempos are sluggish and he is too sedate at times.
Yoël L. Arbeitman wro(April 16, 2001):
(To Steven Guy, rgarding Karajan) I agree with most of the comments. I made sure to read them all. Not enough that I would disagree with. Shaw and vK are obviously totally unsuitable for any kind of real Bach; let's get real. What I do take exception to is the suggestion of vK as a Mahler conductor. He is maybe the worst possible Mahler conductor. I do listen to vK's 1950 live of the B-minor, only for Kathleen Ferrier. Shaw is currently pushed by various record clubs and alas will creep thus into the collections of many beginners for all kinds of choral music. I have never enjoyed him and his ilk from my youngest days. I do rather enjoy Robert King's B-minor, but not as an only and first B-minor.
Bob Sherman wrote (April 16, 2001):
< Sybrand Bakker wrote: My view of Shaw's work is generally the same as Sybrand's, but I lack the ability to be sure about a recording I haven't heard. >For modern instrument recordings, my favorites are the Richter recording (the earlier one with Maria Stader) altough the trumpets are too brash and also Marriner (excellent trumpets). Both are clear, powerful, intelligent, and deeply felt. Haven't heard Rilling yet.
Santu De Silva (Archimedes) wrote (April 16, 2001):
(To Don Marco di Chicago) I generally like the Gardiner, but one of my favorite numbers, namely "Quoniam tu solus sanctus" is disappointing. The soloist and the orchestra slalom through that one without their usual polish. Sometimes I think Gardiner puts too much polish on his performances, but this is in the other extreme.
On the other hand, the soprano duet is really neat; the two women have contrasting manners in their singing, but still sing well together.
Riccardo Nughes wrote (April 16, 2001):
(To Don Marco di Chicago) Here are my suggestions for the Mass in B minor:
Modern instruments : latest Rilling on Hannsler Classic (very well sung);
HIP : Harnoncourt II, Herreweghe II, Leonhardt, Fasolis and Jacobs;
HIP-OVPP : Rifkin.
Emre wrote (September 2, 2001):
I have 2 questions to list: (in your opinion)
1.Best performance on "passacaglia in c minor".(I already have Koopman,Tachezi performances. And also Toscanini on orchestral version)
2. Best performance on "Mass in B minor" (its pathetic! but I could not listen this enormous composition yet.)
Harry J. Steinman wrote (September 2, 2001):
[To Emre] I like E Power Biggs "Passacaglia" and the 1958 Richter recording of the Minor Mass (which surprised me, 'cuz I normally prefer OVPP (One Voice Per Part) and small forces, and the Richter is huge. If you do get the Richter, I have just one piece of advice: Play it loud!!
Riccardo Nughes wrote (September 3, 2001):
[To Emre] Here are my suggestions :
1-My favourite version is the Koopman one on DG label, later he recorded again for Teldec (and maybe he recorded even before, but I'm not sure). I suppose that your Tachezi recording comes from a vinyl, isn't it?
2-Many great recordings of Mass in B minor: Harnoncourt 2nd recording, J. Rifkin OVPP, D. Fasolis, Herreweghe 2nd recording are my suggestions.
Alvin Stravinsky wrote (September 3, 2001):
[To Riccardo Nughes] Could you give details about the Fasolis?
Riccardo Nughes wrote (September 3, 2001):
[To Alvin] See at :
Cor Mertens wrote (September 3, 2001):
[To Emre] For the Mass in B minor, I would recommend the following:
- Gustav Leonhardt's recording of 1985, with Sigiswald Kuijken's La Petite Bande and Isabelle Poulenard, René Jacobs, Max van Egmond, etc.: a superb version, suffused with spirituality, stately yet crisp and transparent (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi GD77040)
- Diego Fasolis conducting the Sonatori della Gioiosa Marca and the suberb Christoph Prégardien, Klaus Mertens, Lynne Dawson et al.: a more recent recording (1998), which I have not yet fully explored. Prégardien alone however already warrants buying it. (Arts Music 47525-2)
- and, although it is OVPP (which you either like or not, but I do, also in his cantata recordings), Joshua Rifkin's version of 1982: The Bach Ensemble and Judith Nelson, Julianne Baird, Jan Opalach, etc. Rifkin's tempi are rather fast, but I do like this recording as well.
My ultimate choice so far, however, would be Leonhardt 1985. But do listen to all these before you buy anything!
Charles Francis wrote (September 3, 2001):
[To Emre] There isn't a "best" version, as such, but rather several "must-haves". If I were you, I would start with either the Rifkin or Parrott "One Voice Per Part" (OVPP) recordings. Both have fast, upbeat-tempos similar to the Leonhardt/La Petite Bande version of 1985 - for me, this approach reflects the profound influence of the Jazz-movement. Rilling's 1977 recording is much more serious, more grand, and more church-like - if you want a deep religious experience go for this (but avoid his later, faster, up-beat recording, as Leonhardt/La Petite Bande do it much better).
Donald Satz wrote (September 3, 2001):
[To Cor Mertens] Leonhardt is also my first choice.
Emre wrote (September 4, 2001):
I agree with you. of course there isn't a "best" version. Therefore I wrote "in your opinion" to the beginning of my mail
Mass in B minor recommendations?
Nick Mailer wrote (September 24, 2001):
I've been having trouble finding a recording of the Mass in B Minor that suits my tastes. I wonder whether anyone knows of a recording that'll fit the bill. I have, for example, the most recent Gustav Leonhardt which seems far too mellow and weedy for my liking, and the tempi seem much too leisurely, oddly for something by one of the fathers of the "authentic" movement. I also have Gardiner's Archiv recording. Again, tempos to slow, and it all sounds too lush and pretty-pretty.
So, what does my picky ear want? Well, authentic instruments but also "authentic" singing - fairly brisk and, for goodness sake, with something of a crie de cour! This is a Mass, after all, so the kyrie should be pleading, not a rococo voice-exercise.
In summary, raspy, quick, vibrant and passionate, with soloists singing like they mean it. To give him credit, Gardiner reaches this kind of vibrancy in the Cum Sancto Spiritu, but fails everywhere else.
So, recommendations? :-)
Sybrand Bakker wrote (September 24, 2001):
[To Nick Mailer] This is just a boring topic as it has been discussed in the group soo many times. I recommend to search the newsgroup archives at http://groups.google.com
Gardiner is basically incompatible with Bach.
Nick Mailer wrote (September 24, 2001):
[To Synrand Bakker] Perhaps so, and I will look up the archives, but my question is specific. Do you really want to subject me to the obvious flamewars that must have ensued? ;-) Name some names and then I promise I won't darken your newsgroup threads again.
Herbert Anton Kellner wrote (September 24, 2001):
[To Nick Mailer] Fitting the bill
Although I know and I'm interested in many of the CD’s, I recently found in Paris - FNAC - the best value for money; thus, "fitting the bill"! Although I am supposedly a "baroqueux" , I liked very much the version of Rilling!
Let me add that I performed as a chorist about 35 years ago this mass in Karlsruhe and as such, a singer with the experience of the event, Rillings performance seems to me very composed and balanced.
Hope you find a version that satisfies you.
John Harrington wrote (September 24, 2001):
[To Nick Mailer & Sybrand Bakker] Guffaw. What threads?
Have you tried Jacobs? It seems to be along the lines of what you're seeking, though if you dislike Gardiner's so much, then I suspect my recommendations are not likely to please you, since his would have been my second recommendation, had you not mentioned you dislike him.
I suggest you ask Simon Roberts on rec.music.classical.recordings. Or seek out his posts on the subject when you check out google.groups. Yes, he likes Gardiner, too, as I recall, but he is very good attailoring his recommendations to others' descriptions of what they require, and he has heard more or less every recording of the b minor mass in existence. His other favorites are Fasolis and Brüggen, I think, which you may also like for their drama and "crie de cour", though I'm only going by what others have said of them.
Nick Mailer wrote (September 25, 2001):
< John Harrington wrote: Have you tried Jacobs? It seems to be along the lines of what you're seeking, though if you dislike Gardiner's so much, then I suspect my recommendations are not likely to please you, since his would have been my second recommendation, had you not mentioned you dislike him. >
Well, I didn't dislike Gardiner's that much. The recording wasn't very good, and the soloists lacked conviction. Sometimes, it's like they are doing breathing exercises, and not without some difficulty.
I shall try the Fasolis and Brüggen. Do you think if I asked on r.m.c.r I'll get the same world-weary hostility that greeted me as the first reply to my question here, or are such questions more acceptable there? ;-)
Mark Slater wrote (September 25, 2001):
[To Nick Mailer] Welcome to the group, Nick.
Ben Crick wrote (September 25, 2001):
[To Nick Mailer] I have the STEMRA CD 99457 (2 CD’s) with
Catherine Dubosc Soprano I
Catherine Denley Soprano II
James Bowman Alto
John Mark Ainsley Tenor
Michael George Bass
The Sixteen Choir & Orchestra
conducted by Harry Christophers
It suits my ears fine!
John Harrington wrote (September 24, 2001):
[To Nick Mailer] I wouldn't take Sybrand too seriously. To answer your question, no. Although you might politely be asked to simply see the google.group archives if there's been a recent lengthy thread on the topic. What will probably happen is that there will be a flurry of opinions out of which you may cull a consensus, which will be helpful if you decide these people share your tastes and expectations of how the bmm should sound.
Mark Slater wrote (September 25, 2001):
[To John Harrington] Mr. Harrington, Sybrand has been a serious contributor to this group for several years. You are a recent arrival here. There was indeed a rather long and, ultimately, tedious thread just last year on this newsgroup. It is not too much to ask new contributors to monitor the group for several weeks before they contribute. Looking at the archives is also helpful.
Best non-period recording of B-minor Mass?
Dougie Sospiro wrote (October 5, 2001):
Hello everyone, this is dougie, noted on the yahoogroup arena as a coloratura fiend... I've been a fan of the B-minor Mass since 6th grade, actually around this time of year when my then-pno. teacher gave me a score & I 1st heard a recording. That recording was the Eugen Jochum, which still excites me in many ways now b/c of generally excellent execution of all parts - even though it still has a wiff of old-school Kapellmeister about it, esp. after the onslaught of pd. perf. which started to be released not too long after that one.
I'd love to hear people's views about the "best" non-pd. recording of this work - I love many things about the pd. approach but not certain bits & pieces which easily annoy me [the preponderance of boy trebles, a voice type to which I have 1 of my few allergies in this world, also the "pd." pitch - B-minor & the related D-major being my fave keys, the tonal colors are somewhat varnished hearing them lowered]; whereas I can often enjoy the rousing Technicolor of the non-pd. approach but not the immense grandiosity which put the listener in the middle of an acoustic arena.
ALSO - this is pretty important for me - I'm working on a project now which should be finished by the spring... I'm writing a Passion entitled "10 STATIONS OF BETRAYAL" based upon the medieval Passion play [the Carmina Burana]. Would love to expand upon this some more, would love to get support from you wonderful people out there. Please express interest, I'm a little shy about talking about it. [Don't worry, this will be about as far away from Bach as one can get...]
Peter Bright wrote (October 5, 2001):
[To Dougie Sospiro] My favourite recording is still Karl Richter's majestic version from 1961, with Fischer-Dieskau, Stader, Topper, Haefliger, Engen and the Munchener Bach-Chor. While the first Kyrie is played extremely slowly, the other selections are generally at the pace of the more recent period offerings. The recording really is a touchstone for me and Richter's control and direction of the large choir is justifiably famous.
I can't think of an HIP recording that is anywhere near as moving as this one. The closest might be Andrew Parrot with Kirkby et al. and the Taverner Consort, which, of course, couldn't be more different in terms of ensemble size.
Yoshitake Kobayashi on BWV 232Boyd Pehrson wrote (December 5, 2001):
Japanese Bach scholar Yoshitake Kobayashi provides sensitive insight on Bach's Mass in B-minor. Here he responds to critics Schering and Smend, who second guess Bach's creative judgement in the B-Minor Mass. Kobayashi, who is a Buddahist, demonstrates the universal appeal of Bach, and also, that music critics are not necessarily always up to the task of correctly understanding the import of certain musical passages.
Yoshitake Kobayashi's research is responsible for the chronological redesignation of the B-Minor Mass, and he demonstrated that the Mass in B-Minor is Bach's final ultimate statement of his music and his faith.
Kobayashi, Yoshitake. "Universality in Bach's B Minor Mass:
A Portrait of Bach in His Final Years."
Bach 24, no. 2 (1993): 3-25.
In the closing movement of his B Minor Mass, Bach parodies the "Gratias agimus tibi" from earlier in the work,instead of drawing on the Kyrie material, as was the more common practice. Friedrich Smend criticized Bach for expressing the final prayer with music from the Gloria, arguing that the Kyrie music would have been more appropriate. Yet Bach's approach is highly convincing. For Bach, the final "Dona nobis pacem" is not a prayer for peace calling for Kyrie material, but an expression of gratitude, "a thanksgiving not only for the completion of his opus ultimum but beyond that for his entire oeuvre." Bach did not borrow here to save time. Contrary to Schering's conclusion that the "strangely unsettled" "Benedictus" originally must have belonged to another text, Bach probably sketched the movement in lighter ink and then traced it with darker ink, which would indicate a careful conception rather than a parody.
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