Mass in B minor BWV 232
General Discussions - Part 9
Continue from Part 8
Mass in B Minor
Rick wrote (November 12, 2002):
I'm new to the group, and wanted to introduce myself... although I love Bach, my knowledge is quite limited, and I'm hoping to get some advice on starting a collection, without randomly spending a great deal of money on recordings that aren't ideal...
My interests run more to early music, Medieval liturgical particularly. So here's my (first) question...
Could the members of the group recommend any recordings of Bach's mass in B Minor which have (I hope I'm at least somewhat clear) more of a 'liturgical' rather than an 'operatic' flavor? I've never been a big fan of the highly trained operatic voice, and wonder if there's anything out there with more of an 'early' feel to it...
Many thanks for your help...
Kirk McElhearn wrote (November 12, 2002):
[To Rick] The first thing that comes to my mind is the Andrew Parrott recording, which was recently released in a budget box with the SJP, Easter oratorio and Ascencion oratorio.
See my review of this set here:
Riccardo Nughes wrote (November 12, 2002):
[To Rick] I think that the Leonhardt recording (DHM) has the qualities you're looking for. Very "sacral".
Uri Golomb wrote (November 12, 2002):
[To Rick] Regarding the two recommendations that have already been cited -- both would fit the bill, at least to some extent. Parrott's certainly would in terms of the types of voices he employs; however, given some of the sharper moments in it (like the dance-like articulation of some figures in the First Kyrie), I'm not sure I'd describe it as "liturgical", in the way this term is often used today. In this sense, Leonhardt would probably be a better bet, as would Herreweghe's first (Virgin Veritas) performance. (Personally, I prefer Herreweghe's 2nd performance, on Harmonia Mundi -- but the first is arguably the restrained and relaxed of the two, which would fit some ideas of "liturgical"). Another possibility is Robert King (who uses a boys' chorus, and boy soloists for both soprano and alto solos).
See also some comments on Rifkin's performance in the following article from Bernard Sherman: http://homepages.kdsi.net/~sherman/oneperpart.html (in this particular context, I refer you to the very beginning and the very end of the article). You might also find Sherman's genearl article on the B minor Mass -- http://homepages.kdsi.net/~sherman/bminormass.htm -- helpful.
In any case, the dividing lines are not always clear. I can think of several performances in which the vocal production is not operatic, but the interpretation -- the wide dynamic range, for instance, or strong tempo contrasts -- might well seem theatrical (I'm thinking, for instance, of the recording conducted by John Eliot Gardiner, Jeffrey Thomas and Thomas Hengelbrock).
Hope this helps,
Eitan Loew wrote (November 13, 2002):
[To Rick] I guess that you meant the BWV 232 b-minor Mass rather than d. As far as I know the other ones (Evangelic, not Catholic as this one) are:
BWV 233 in F
BWV 234 in A
BWV 235 in g
BWV 236 in G
Michael Carter wrote (November 13, 2002):
[To Rick] First of all, welcome; I am relatively new here as well.
Indeed it is the Mass in B Minor, BWV 232. As Eitan mentioned, there are four other settings of the mass text by Bach, the so-called Lutheran Masses. With regard to their big brother, I have two recordings: Hermann Max on Capriccio 60033 uses period instruments, light-voiced soloists and a small choir while Helmuth Rilling on Hänssler 92070 uses modern instruments, full-throated solo singing and an extremely alert choir that sounds to number in the thirties or forties.
Some don't care for Rilling, but I find his musical judgement to be rock-solid and lacking the occasional mechanical quality found in the old Karl Richter recordings on Archiv.
Pete Blue wrote (November 13, 2002):
[To Rick] The word "liturgical" means different things to different people, and has been an especially controversial word when applied to the B Minor, which doesn't fit comfortably into a conventional Christian niche. Do you mean something that sounds reverent as opposed to theatrical? Using that criterion may not result in the most satisfying choice of recording.
Therefore I suggest you look at the DVDs or VHS versions available. I have spotted two: one conducted by Georg Christoph Biller and made at the Leipziger Thomaskirche (I don't know that one but it sounds at least atmospheric), and the other conducted by the should-be-better- known Enoch zu Guttenberg and praised in the past on this List (I know and like that one).
Or wait for a B Minor, on CD or DVD, from Suzuki.
If you want something REALLY liturgical try the Epiphany Mass recording made by Paul McCreesh.
Rick wrote (November 22, 2002):
I wanted to thank everyone for the many helpful posts in my search for a 'liturgical' Mass in B Minor. I just purchased the Hermann Max recording on Capriccio; of those suggested, it was the easiest to find...
It's very much what I've been looking for, very much the feeling I wanted...
Many thanks for your help; you've saved me a significant amount of both money and time...
Michael Carter wrote (November 22, 2002):
[To Rick] If you like Max's B Minor Mass, try his st Matthew and St John Passions; they're equally as impessive.
Rick wrote (November 22, 2002):
[To Michael Well, that saves me my next question... versions of the pieces you've
mentioned. I'll check them out and let you know.
Karthik Kalayanaraman wrote (January 5, 2003):
Im new to the Yahoo group. In any case, I had a question. Im looking out for recordings of the Mass in B min. I have heard a couple (Schreier, Karajan (ugh), Herreweghe, Pearlman) but theyve always left me somewhat dissatisfied. What I'm looking for is the foll, 1) As little or no vibrato in the solo voices as possible, clear notes and NO--what I call fudging--a la operatic voices. I want to hear the notes as precisely as possible and couldnt care less about color and 2) relatively fast tempi in the Sanctus, in the cum sancto spirito and kyrie 1 (Herreweghe for examples takes these far too slowly to my liking, though the solists in his later recording come closest to my ideal)and 3) Hopefully too, good latin pronounciation though that isnt absolutely necessary.
Matthew Neugebauer wrote (January 5, 2003):
[To Karthik.Kalyanaraman] Well, I got the Parrot recording (1985?) really cheap, as it also includes St. John Passion and the Ascension and Easter Oratorios (all for $27 CDN!). It's OVPP, so the Gloria can sometimes be a bit weak, but not as weak as the Herreweghe's (which I also have, the one with Zomer, Gens, Scholl, et al), but OVPP generally means very clear voices and lines. One of the soloists is Emma Kirkby, and she's a major proponent of the reduced-vibrato ideal (I think). Parrot's Kyrie 1 is about 4/3 times the speed of the Herreweghe's (i.e. a bit faster), The Cum Sanctu Spiritu is about the same tempo for both, as is Sanctus, but in the sampler for the Bach 2000 Cpte Works edition by Teldec, Harnoncourt's Sanctus is much faster. So the Parrot may not fulfill your tempo preferences, but I think it would fill everything else.
Another thing-I not only recommend but implore you to religiously avoid the Giulini recording. Fails in all your criteria and then some!
Thomas Radleff wrote (January 5, 2003):
[To Karthik.Kalyanaraman] The b-minor mass recording that might come quite close to your taste is a very lovely one: Freiburger Barockorchester & Balthasar-Neumann-Chor, dir. by Thomas Hengelbrock. The excellent soloists are part of the choir – I counted 27 names, but it sounds much smaller, intimate, well balanced parts. No "soloist a" audible, simply beautiful chanting. Authentic instruments; among the players are Hille Perl, gamba, Guido Larisch, cello, Karl & Susanne Kaiser, flutes, and the trumpeteer Friedeman Immer.
Released 1997 by Deutsche Harmonia Mundi. Timing 56:20 + 52:55.
Recommended by Thomas R.
Karthik Kalayanaraman wrote (January 6, 2003):
Thanks all for your suggestions. I will look out for the recordings you mentioned--the Max, Hengelbrock and Parrott. I dont recall having seen a recording of the mass by any of them in a CD store so maybe Ill have to go online. (I have a recording of the Monteverdi Vespers by Parrott which is quite wonderful; so I might try him first. I didnt realize he had a Mass in B minor out) Well thanks again.
Drew Pierce wrote (January 6, 2003):
[To Karthik.Kalyanaraman] Sorry to chime in a bit late, but I thought I would list several of my favorite HIP recordings of BWV 232 that, to my knowledge, have not been mentioned. They are also easier to obtain in North America. All three also received favorable reviews from Gramophone.
(1) Gustav Leonhardt / La Petite Bande (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi). This is a wonderful recording. The soloists are excellent, the choir adequate, but the real stars, in my mind, are La Petite Bande. Lovely shaping of the instrumental parts of the Mass. Available for budget price (around $13) at berkshirerecordoutlet.com
(2) Robert King / The King's Consort / Tölzer Knabenchor (Hyperion). King is a brilliant interpreter of the Baroque and this is a very special Mass, particularly because of the use of the boy's choir and boy soloists. Fragile and sublime!
(3) Richard Hickox / Collegium Musicum 90 (Chandos). This may be my favorite recording, although I hate to be limited to one recording of such a rich composition. The soloists, choir, and ensemble mesh together beautifully.
Hope this is of some help,
Mass in B minor, listening recommendations
Andrey Dorokhov [Moscow, Russia] wrote (March 20, 2003):
Need your advice and/or listening recommendations. March 30th I am going to listen B-minor Mass in Moscow with Minin Chorus and Russian National Orchestra with Kurt Nagano.
What about Kurt Nagano, never heard him conducting anything, especially Bach. And about this Mass. Where I can read something about it? Any particular things I need to know about this mass before listening it? Any advices?
Thank you for your help
Piotr Jaworski wrote (March 20, 2003):
[To Andrey Dorokhov] Never heard anything of Bach by (probably) KENT Nagano as well, but this could be really interesting experience. Especially when he will conduct the great RNO!!! For more readings about the Mass try these links:
http://www.aam.co.uk/ ("Features" section)
and first of all to B.D Sharman excellent article at his website
And - please - write here about the performance, your comments, feelings etc.
Andrey Dorokhov [Moscow, Russia] wrote (March 20, 2003):
[To Piotr Jaworski] Thank you for these links! Great material! Now it's easier for me (prefer to be prepared before listening a life performance)
I will definitely share my feelings there about this performance.
Number of recordings
Uri Golomb wrote (May 9, 2003):
Just a small nit-picking point -- or perhaps not. A while ago, Riccardo wrote that "there are 45 performances of the B Minor Mass available on Arkiv.com." Well, I checked -- and that's not entirely accurate. There are, indeed, 45 B minor Mass albums on sale -- but the number of performances is actually smaller, for two reasons:
1) there are one or two collections, with only excerpts from the Mass mixed with excerpts from other works, under that heading;
2) several "different" recordings are, in fact, the same performance. For instance, Parrott's recording of the Mass has been available, over the years, in four different formats: EMI full-price, Virgin Veritas mid-price, Virgin Veritas budget price (two-for-one), and as part of 5-CD set which also includes the Johannes-Passion (BWV 245) and other works. Three of these formats are on sale on Arkiv -- as separate items! The consumer is given no indication whatsoever that these are, in fact, one and the same recording.
Slightly OT: Baroque Supermass
Matt wrote (June 24, 2003):
Alright, I know it sounds a bit crazy, and definitely spawned by a tad of boredom, but what would it be like to compile the greatest mass movements of the baroque era (or any other era, but era-crossing would doubtless make an even worse continuity problem!)
well, I've been thinking about this for a while, and a few days ago I made this list from my (limited) own recordings. I plan to make my own CD of it in order:
Key: Biber: Heinrich Biber Missa Salisburgensis
Bach: Johann Sebastian Bach Mass in B Minor BWV 232
Händel: George Friderick Händel (attrib.) Gloria HWV deest
Vivaldi 1: Antonio Vivaldi Gloria RV 588
Vivaldi 2: Antonio Vivaldi Gloria RV 589
Gloria in excelsis Deo: Vivaldi 2
Et in terra pax: Vivaldi 1
Laudamus te/Gratias: Händel (Gratias: possibly Bach)
Domine Deus: Vivaldi 2
Domine Fili Unigenite: Vivaldi 1
Domine Deus, Agnus Dei: Vivaldi 2 (or Vivaldi 1)
Qui tollis peccata mundi: Händel
Quoniam tu solus Sanctus: Bach
Cum Sancto Spiritu: Bach
Credo: Bach (all movements)
Agnus Dei: Bach (both movements)
Now, first off, I have a question-in my recording of Händel's Gloria, Laudamus Te and Gratias are on the same track. Now I want Bach's Gratias instead of Händel's, so I might do some track-splitting. However, would Bach's Dona Nobis Pacem make sense/effect not be dampened too much even without his Gratias (same music, different words)?
of these recordings (+ the Sanctus in C Major BWV 237), could anyone suggest an alternate lineup (except of course from doing just Mass in B Minor, or doing all Bach)?
Mass in b minor - missing measure?
Roland Wörner wrote (June 28, 2003):
A few years ago I heard N. Harnoncourt talking in an interview about one measure in a choral movement by Bach, which is missing in the NBA, although it exists in the manuscript. If I remember right it concerned the mass in b minor, but I'm not sure. Harnoncourt recorded the concerning movement including that measure in one of his recordings. Does anybody know which movement it could be?
Please add to the list / BWV 232
Sweep Picker 2003 wrote (August 6, 2003):
First time posting. I would like to know what are the works that any Bach Fanatic would not be caught without and if you can please explain why? Please add to my list of what I currently have.
Choral and Vocal Music:
Mass in B Minor
BWV 595 - Organ Concerto in C
BWV 593 - Organ Concerto in A minor
BWV 538 - Dorian Toccata and Fugue in D minor
BWV 542 - Fantasia and Fugue in G minor
BWV 565 - Toccata and Fugue in D minor
Well-Tempered Clavier 1 and 2
Sonatas and Partitas for solo Violin
Six Cello Suites
Three Violin Concertos
Al Sampson wrote (August 7, 2003):
I agree with you on the absolute primacy of the B Minor Mass in the vocal music, though I would certainly not want to be without the magnificent duet from Jesu, der du meine Seele. He must have had fun writing that.
Speaking of the B Minor, I have not heard another recording that I like nearly as well as the Gardiner. I'd be interested in opinions on this.
Bob Henderson wrote (August 7, 2003):
I agree that the Gardner is an outstanding recording. It would be hard to match Gardner's precision and bite. Recently however I have been listening to King and the Tolzer Knabenchor. Very different from the Gardner. I would call it a glorious mess.(mass).
More spontaneous; takes more risks. Gardner misses a spiritual quality. However much I likthis recording. I grew into Bach during the 1970s and Richter's Mass will always have a special meaning to me. However slow and heavy parts of it sound today, there are other qualities which keep it noteworthy I look forward to the Suzuki effort.
Peter Bright wrote (August 7, 2003):
[To Bob Henderson] I agree with Bob about the Gardiner and Richter. Another version I am partial to is Andrew Parrot's on Virgin (now at budget price). But the power and majesty of Richter (c. 1960) is hard to beat...
S.W. Anandgyan wrote (August 7, 2003):
[To Al Sampson] To name only three versions, I'd mention two names; Herreweghe (I and II ) and Brüggen. For their pleasant flow and the effectiveness of the moving parts; quite touching.
S.W. Anandgyan wrote (October 21, 2003):
I have mentioned long ago how the MBM is a favourite of mine. It has been an ear-training device too !
I'm listening to the BBC Legends recording with George Enescu conducting and, how to put it with my limited vocabulary, it stretches the variety of expression and still hits the spots. I guess I want to say I like it a lot even though it is not my current number #1. Nice to be able to listen to such a document from the Fifties. My only mono CD so far ...
I've landed the MBM from Paul Kuentz and this has not been a disastrous experience. Granted he is not famous at all to me, I couldn't find much information about him and his orchestra, I must say I purchased his version of the Magnificat on the Disques Pierre Verany label too and do not cringe.
Last time I wrote I was enquiring about Karl Richter the artist. I was told about Lionel Rogg and read about John Butt. Thanks to those budget reissues I have one compact disc of each of these organist, respectively on Eloquence, EMI Red Line and Classical Express, for the usual full price of one CD and I have found out how 'sound' is important; this Harmonia Mundi subdivision recording sure is pleasant to my ears, in spite of those two first ones being digitally remastered.
In a way, I " knew " the Toccata and Fugue BWV 565, the cello suite #1 BWV 1007 or the aria from the Cantata BWV 147 for having heard them somewhere somehow while growing up yet I was to be taken by surprise, or simply floored, by the Agnus Dei in BWV 232 and the Cantata BWV 115 to be hooked. May the newcomers have their moments of revelation.
Wishing you many more aural delights.
Bach’s B-minor Mass
Jerry Carbone wrote (November 5, 2003):
I am looking for a performance of the Bach's B-minor Mass somewhere in the northeast part of the U.S. withing the next several months
Does anyone know where this might be performed.
Pat Maimone wrote (November 5, 2003):
[To Jerry Carbone] Wish that I could say that the Hudson Valley Bach Fest would be presenting the Bach B Minor Mass soon, but alas, I cannot. Even if conductor Laura Russell had that in mind, the next Bach Fest is in August of 2004.
In my experience, there are more performances of the B Minor in the spring, rather than the fall. Sometimes it takes all year for the choir to learn this magnificent work.
Try Boston's Symphony Hall and New York's Carnegie Hall and Philharmonic Hall plus Philadelphia's new Kimmel Center.
The Bach Choir of Bethlehem [Greg Funfgeld, conductor] has annual performances at Packer Chapel, Lehigh University for two weekends in May. Search for their website as well as ChoralNet, where many choral conductors list their performances quite regularly.
Best of luck!
Allan Balmer (through Santu De Silva wrote (November 5, 2003):
[To Jerry Carbone] Albany Pro Musica will be performing Bach's Mass in B minor in its entirety this coming spring at the Troy Music Hall inTroy, New York:
The schedule is on the first page - scroll all the way to the bottom for the Bach.
[Thanks to Katherine Keniston, Delmar, NY. firstname.lastname@example.org ]
Kat Nagel wrote (November 5, 2003):
I'm not aware of any performances in upstate NY this spring, but I'd be delighted to be proved wrong. The Rochester Bach Festival in Rochester, NY, won't be presenting the B-minor Mass again until October 2006, as part of our 50th Anniversary year. I hope to have the basic skeleton of the 3-year Anniversary Celebration schedule (3 annual festivals, 35 cantata concerts, recitals, master classes, etc.) on our web site by the end of November.
Kat Nagel wrote (November 5, 2003):
[To Allan Balmer] Wonderful! Thanks for the information.
Aryeh Oron wrote (November 6, 2003):
[To Jerry Carbone] The Bach Cantatas Website includes world-wide Schedule of Concerts of Bach's vocal works:
Year 2003: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Concerts/Concert-2003.htm
Year 2004: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Concerts/Concert-2004.htm
Year 2005: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Concerts/Concert-2005.htm
If any member is aware of scheduled concerts of vocal works by J.S. Bach not listed in these pages please inform me. The instructions how to send me additions, corrections, updates, etc. appear in the page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Concerts/index.htm
Jerry Carbone wrote (November 6, 2003):
[To Aryeh Oron] What a great list--Many thanks.
Bach's Mass in B Minor Extracts [Choral Talk]
Norman Yeo wrote (November 25, 2003):
Hi all, has anyone performed choral extracts from Bach's Mass in B Minor? Each part of his mass consists of choral parts and solo parts. For example, "Kyrie" has 2 choral movements and 1 duet. Would it be inappropriate say to just perform one of the choral movements? Have any of you done this? Any thoughts?
Philip C. Adams [Choirmaster, St. Francis of Assisi Church, Columbus, Ohio, USA] wrote (November 25, 2003):
[To Norman Yeo] Last year my parish choir performed the second Kyrie from the B minor Mass for a Lenten concert (with just organ accompaniment). I thought it was wonderful! I would also consider doing the Crucifixus.
Kevin Sutton wrote (November 25, 2003):
[To Norman Yeo] Wellll, there are some movements perhaps that you could perform independently, and I don't see where this would be a bad thing. As I recall, when I was an undergrad, we did this. However, I must say that to hear this work accompanied by a piano or an organ is really unsatisfactory.
Conducting the b minor has been a goal of mine for years, and I am not sure when I will ever get to do it, at least here in Dallas, since the Dallas Bach Society is far more suited to perform the work than my choir is.
If it comes down to performing extracts or not doing any of it, then I say perform the extracts. After all, you wouldn't want to deny yourself or your choir the pleasure of singing this wonderful music.
Rusty Keesler wrote (November 26, 2003):
[To Norman Yeo] Yes. Perform excerpts from Bach's B Minor Mass; it will be a great experience for the singers and audience. I have seen the Kyrie, Crucifixus, and Dona Nobis excerpted. Also consider a couple of movements from Bach's Magnificat (BWV 243) - the 1st mvt. and Sicut, Locutus Est are wonderful.
Nan Beth Walton [Faith Lutheran Church, Seattle Bach Choir, Seattle, WA, USA] wrote (November 26, 2003):
[To Norman Yeo] I have had my choir present the second Kyrie, the Gloria, Et Resurrexit, Credo, Sanctus, Et Incarnatus Est, Crucifixus, and Dona Nobis Pacem separately, some with piano, some with orchestra (I may have omitted something...I am not near my score and my mind is on Advent and Christmas). Some day we'll do the whole thing, but it would have to be outside of a worship service because of the length. Both the choir and the congregation have enjoyed those excerpts, and it is a good way to prepare them for experiencing the entire work. I have separated many movements out of other larger works, and have enjoyed the result.
I have wanted to do something like that with music from the Passions, but I don'see most of those movements as working as well separately, though I would love to hear from someone who has done that.
John Howell [Virginia Tech Department of Music, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA] wrote (November 26, 2003):
[To Nan Beth Walton] I wouldn't expect it to work with the Passions. It is, after all, an ongoing story line, and the choruses (except for the opening and closing, of course) are simply interjections by the turba. They are not written to be self-contained, and they are not. The chorales, while beautiful, lose their special meaning when they are separated from the story line.
Stephen E. Bacher [Music Director, First United Methodist Church, Framingham, MA, USA] wrote (November 26, 2003):
[To Nan Beth Walton] Not choral numbers, but I worked with a vocal soloist who performed excerpts from the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244), including "Mache dich, mein Herze, rein" and "Gerne will ich mich bequemen". They worked fine with just voice and piano.
S.W. Anadgyan wrote (November 29, 2003):
When I was in NYC I saw both King's and Hickox's recordings of the MBM for the first time available on the shelves but chose to bring bring back the latest from Arvo Pärt, Alexander Knaifel and Robert Wyatt (not a classical composer per se but a classic to my taste).
So my American friend offers me the Collegium 90 version as a gift and I've just finished listening to it for the very first time. Words that come up in my mind are polished, intimate and clear. It's those occasions that are like 'opening a window' to a work for my beginner's ears. I had a resembling limpid experience when I came across both Harnoncourt versions.
Quite a contrast with the Münchinger set that I have acquired while on sale, just to add to my listening possibilities and differentiate HIP from modern instruments as recordings like the Jochum II ... The Agnus Dei never fails to seduce me into contemplation. I look forward so much for the Cantus Cölln's take on this oeuvre.
My own personal gifts for X-Mas are going to be the Suzuki's XO and King's MBM. I don't have a car ;-)
I look forward to read comments from more seasoned listeners to the most recent Herreweghe Bach Christmas Cantatas and Magnificat 243a.
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (December 2, 2003):
[To S.W. Anandgyan] Have you heard the Richter/MBO and/or any of the Thomanerchor Leipzig recordings of the Messe h-Moll yet?
As the the Magnificat BWV 243a, let me know what you think of it.
S.W. Anandgyan wrote (December 2, 2003):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] I have heard the live MBM from Richter's " Sacred Masterpieces " set. This belongs to my artillery to acquire a better discrimination in listening abilities. Thanks to the BCW I could search and find out quickly what is the Thomanerchor Leipzig and I do not have any record of this choir.
I'm considering adding the XO (BWV 248) from Karl Münchinger to his MBM, (a funny habit of mine since the days of making home tapes; I "need" two CDs of an artist in my collection. ) even if the sound is not on par with recent recordings but it sure helps me to notice what is HIP and what was the norm form conductors in the late Sixties and early Seventies.
I'm impressed that you can settle for 30 sec excerpts from certain sales website, I have to listen to the same thing over and over before it "gels" in my mind. I'm in no hurry though ...
Let the music play.
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (December 3, 2003):
[To S.W. Anandgyan] I have heard and owned Münchinger's Weinachtsoratorium. I would not recommend it. I actually would recommend the earlier Rilling (the one with the Harpsichord), the Richter, or the Thomas (with the Thomanerchor Leipzig) recordings. Münchinger left a lot of emotional depth (to me) to be desired in his performances.
As to places to find the Thomanerchor Leipzig (Choir of St. Thomas's Church in Leipzig, Germany), I would recommend both Amazon.com and its German counterpart Amazon.de.com. I also would recommend a visit to the Thomanerchor Leipzig homepage, which has a shopping function on it.
Digest Number 1112
B minor Mass, and more
Gardiner's B Minor Mass
B mnor Mass recordings
Julian Sguera wrote (December 5, 2003):
To those who were discussing the B minor: what in your opinions is your favorite recording of this work, and what do you think of Gardiner's recording on Archiv?
Bradley Lehman wrote (December 5, 2003):
[To Julian Sguera] [snip]
As for recordings of the B minor mass: I'm personally fond of both the Herreweghe recordings, both the Harnoncourt recordings, and Parrott and Leonhardt, ahead of Gardiner. Gardiner's just seems to me too slick, instrumentally too facile, and the choral singing too hyped-up sometimes. (And I recall reading a review, a very long time ago, where the writer compared the holding-back of "Et expecto" in Gardiner's performance to a bunch of eager cheerleaders. Too much extraversion at the expense of quiet and thoughtful intensity. I agree.)
In Gardiner's rendition, things just zoom by quickly and cleanly without much detail to notice, making the whole thing relatively monochromatic and, I feel, diminishing the music thereby. That's my musical and not musicological opinion about those recordings, as a listener who enjoys the piece (and one who has performed it several times), for what it's worth.
Donald Satz wrote (December 5, 2003):
[To Julian Sguera] [snip]
Stick in there Julian, and maybe the tide will turn. Concering the B minor Mass (not for organ), my favorite is the Leonhardt which has some great soloists. I'd place Gardiner a little ways behind. Actually, I haven't yet come across a B minor Mass recording I disliked, except for the ones using modern instruments.
Peter Bright wrote (December 6, 2003):
[To Julian Sguera] I am only just hanging on to this group - I now rarely check my emails from BachRecordings because I know that they will just be full of boring nonsense arising from bruised egos - why these people think that we are interested in their rudeness to each other (why can't they do this in personal emails?) I don't know.
Thanks for your query on the B Minor Mass. I also find the Gardiner to be exceptionally good, although I haven't heard it for a while. I also enjoy Andrew Parrot's version, now available at budget price (Virgin) – the performance can be a little lacking in emotional force (Parrot uses a pared down vocal force in line with his views on historically informed performance practice of Bach's time). However, what he loses in weight and intensity he gains in beautiful, clean music and vocal lines. The "Et in Spiritum Sanctum" is the finest on record for me. However, I still always return to Richter's Mass from around 1960 on Archiv. Once the shock on the unbelievably slow first Kyrie has passed, Richter weaves a musical spell of great majesty. Certainly not one for the period instrument/HIP purists, but it is one of my desert island discs and I would not want to be without it.
Hope this helps!
Donald Satz wrote (December 6, 2003):
[To Peter Bright] I think it's best to have a number of recordings of the Mass in B minor. I'd go with Gardiner, Parrott, Hickox, King, Leonhardt, and Rifkin. The Richter would be only one on modern instruments I would keep. I just hate the sound of those modern strings in baroque music.
Uri Golomb wrote (December 6, 2003):
Since I'm now in the finishing stages of a PhD dissertation on recordings of the Mass (http://www.mus.cam.ac.uk/external/people/graduatesphd/ujg20.html), I should take part in this discussion... However, since I have to comply by the fast-approaching deadline for submitting said dissertation, I'm not sure I'd have the time to do so properly.
So for the moment, a very brief and highly personal list of favourite recordings (reflecting the recordings I personally like best, not the selection of historically-important recordings I focus on in my thesis):
Favourite on modern instruments -- Eugen Jochum's second version (EMI, 1980).
Favourites on period instruments: Hickox and Herreweghe (his second recording, on Harmonia Mundi) -- relatively "safe" recommendations; Harnoncourt (his second, 1986 version) and Hengelbrock as more "risky" recommendations -- performances I personally admire and enjoy, but on the other hand are so filled with idiosyncratic gestures and ideas that I'd find it difficult to recommend them to others -- while some listeners would share my view and be intensely moved by these readings, others might well find them eccentric.
Also, there's an interesting article on the subject by Bernard Sherman, which is definitely worth examining: http://homepages.kdsi.net/~sherman/bminormass.htm.
As for Gardiner: I like many moments in it -- and, unlike Brad, I really admire the way he shapes the transition from "Confiteor" to "Expecto" (and also his cumulative build-up of the "Gratias" and "Dona nobis", and Michael Chance's "Agnus dei") -- but on the whole I think it's neither his best recording, nor the best Mass. Some moments (and movements) are too brash and slick to my taste. Hickox's vision of the work resembles Gardiner's, in many ways, but he is ultimately more subtle, thoughtful and refined -- so I prefer his version. That said, I suspect that if Gardiner were to re-do the Mass now -- with the experience of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage behind him -- the result would be much more moving than hsi 1985 version.
Oh -- and I have very high expectations from Cantus Cölln's version, but I resolved not to hear it unitl after I've submitted my dissertation. (I have to shorten it -- that's my primary task at the moment; the last thing I need it to add anything substantial...)
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (December 6, 2003):
[To Donald Satz] For reasons I cannot explain and they really don't matter, while King's resonates with me (with its self-evident faults), Leonhardt's does not. The sound or rather the sonics do not transmit the performance to me, perhaps. OTOH, modern or not, the 1951 Enescu on BBC Legends really does move me. I have no doctrine, just respond to that to which I respond.
Continue on Part 10