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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 Philippe Herreweghe


J.S. Bach: Messe in H-Moll · Mass in B Minor · Messe en si mineur BWV 232


Mass in B minor BWV 232

Philippe Herreweghe

Chorus & Orchestra of Collegium Vocale Gent

Sopranos: Barbara Schlick, Catherine Patriasz; Alto: Charles Brett; Tenor: Howard Crook; Bass: Peter Kooy

Virgin Veritas

Apr 1988

2-CD / TT: 106:39

1st recording of Mass in B minor BWV 232 by P. Herreweghe
Buy this album at:


J.S. Bach: Messe en si · h-moll-messe · Mass in B minor


Mass in B minor BWV 232

Philippe Herreweghe

Chœr et Orchestre du Collegium Vocale Gent

Sopranos: Johannette Zomer & Véronique Gens; Alto: Andreas Scholl; Tenor: Christoph Prégardien; Basses: Peter Kooy & Hanno Müller-Brachmann

Harmonia Mundi France

July 1996

2-CD / TT: 108:22

2nd recording of Mass in B minor BWV 232 by P. Herreweghe.
Buy this album at:
2-CD: | |

Herreweghe's B-minor Mass

Kenneth Edmonds wrote (March 27, 1998):
I just listened to Herreweghe's most recent record of the B Minor Mass. What a truly marvelous recording! This is the fourth recording that I have bought. (Rilling, Gardiner, and Koopman are the others.) The choir, as usual, is wonderful. The soloists are great, too.(Zomer, Gens, Scholl, Pregardien, Kooy, and Muller-Brachmann). A couple of the tempi were a little fast for me. Why is it that I'm never satisfied! Most notably were the Gratias agimus tibi, Dona nobis pacem, and Crucifixus. I guess it's going to take a little getting used to it. The Crucifixus also was different from all the other recordings I've heard. The half notes played by the strings and flutes are all played very separated. I guess it fits the fast tempo, but I've never heard it that way.

All in all, I think it's the best recording I've heard of the piece. It is too bad Herreweghe is not doing a complete cantata cycle. I've already invested a lot of money in the Koopman edition, which I am very happy with. (For those of you collecting the set, vol. 6 comes out at the end of April). I will continue to collect all the Herreweghe recordings I can afford, however.

Pieter-Jelle de Boer wrote (March 28, 1998):
Ah... I'm filled with joy when reading the attention that is given to my favourite Bach-conductor, the distinguished Mr Philippe Herreweghe. As some of you may have read, I already gave a small discussion about the Mass some mails ago. Now let me see, one of you says (or actually two) "Fantastic" and another says "Don't know, something missing". I know what you mean. In a way, the older Virgin recording had a more "sacred" atmosphere about it. The new HM version is more outgoing, cleaner, technically more perfect, and still very good, IMO. I read a discussion of this recording in "Le monde de la musique", where they posed the question, whether this new recording was really necessary. I think though, that, especially in the second part, some important improvements were made, e.g. in the Sanctus, the Osanna, the Agnus Dei. Scholl is much better a countertenor than Charles Brett, IMO. And yes, I have the "alto-cantatas" cd with the organ solo by Markus Maerkl, indeed very fine. Also here a slight preference for quick tempi, but as long as the music remains clear, it doesn't really disturb me.

On this last recording, I actually noticed some kind of rhythmic "thumping" in the sinfonia to "Geist und Seele...", presumably caused by the harpsichord. It's irritating in a way. Did anybody else notice this?

Concluding comment on the B-minor Mass: Both Herreweghe versions have their pros and maybe (I un willingly admit) some cons. When you like a more intimate interpretation, try the first (Virgin). If you like a more outspoken, direct, explicitly played performance, take the second (Harmonia Mundi).

For me, one of the most beautiful parts of the Mass is one not often mentioned, namely the Qui tollis for choir. Those flutes! Those dissonants! I can never get enough of that!

But enough for now. Bye,


Scholl/Herreweghe & B Minor Mass

Wim Huisjes wrote (May 2, 1998):
Sam Frederick wrote :
< Has anyone heard the CD of Andreas Scholl singing BWV 35, BWV 54 and BWV 170? Comments? >
Read your message about the Passions and cantata's also. From your questions I gather you're relatively new in the fabulous world of Bach's vocal works. I get the impression you want it all, fast and perfect. If I'm right, I think you're in trouble. To compare Klemperer and Gardiner in just a few lines, doesn't do justice to either one. Most Bachophiles spent years, if not much longer, to obtain a collection to their liking.

I, for example have some 14 performances of Bach's SMP (idem for SJP). I would'nt want to miss any of them. Believe me, whatever your liking, the "perfect" performance does not exist and will never come. The same goes for the Mass in b and for "complete cantata" sets. You'll have to compromise and live with several performances, each having it's disadvantages.

I read your rather longish list of what you want in one performance. I know of no recordings that meet all of your wishes.

Suzuki's JSP (haven't heard the complete perf yet) may come close, and you might want to wait for his SMP. But neither one will be "perfect".

I know Scholl's performances of BWV 35 etc. They are excellent. But then: there's a lot more. Nobody knows what the final judgement of Koopman's or Suzuki's cantata cycles will be, but be assured : both will not be perfect, judging by the wishes you wrote down, or by any othe criteria. If you discard all non-HIP perf, you'll short-change yourself : there are a lot of non-HIP cantata performances that no HIP ensemble can match. So, at least on the cantata scene : shop around and accept compromises.

< Also, any recommendations for a terrific (perfect?) recording of the B Minor Mass? >
Same comment. Despite your wishes, IMHO Richter's Mass in b is a "must" in any Bach collection. It's been on the map for almost 40 years now. It still will be a 50 years from now. Jochum on EMI is "terrific " also. But perfect? Sorry. You might want to try Leonhardt. You might also want to try learning to compromise and live with several performances, each with it's shortcomings. "Shortcomings" will be defined differently by you, me and everybody else.

I realize that all of this is not much help, but I'll be happy to answer any more specific questions you have.

Sam Frederick wrote (May 2, 1998):
Wim Huisjes wrote:
< Read your message about the Passions and cantata's also. From your questions I gather you're relatively new in the world of Bach's vocal works. I get the impression you want it all, fast and perfect. If I'm right, I think you're in trouble. >
Thank you for your comments. Yes, I am fairly new to Bach's vocal works. (Are you suggestiong things are different with his non-vocal works?) Of course perfection is not realistic, but something close to that is. I don't expect consistency in an entire collection of complete cantatas, but if a certain conductor is handling a certain work with soloists whom I know and love, the result cannot be anything but very close to perfect. This can happen. With a work as large as the Matthew Passion maybe this is less realizable.

I would think, since we all have different tastes, that we should approach this list practically, by specifying what we like about certain recordings and asking for recommendations based on those likes (and dislikes). We might even approach the problem by looking at the achievement of a specific conductor.

For example, which cantatas does Koopman succeed with best? How about Suzuki (he seems to be getting rave reviews all around -- has he done anything undesireable?)? And since we don't all have the same tastes, we might have to specify what qualities in voice and instrument we prefer (hence my "longish" list).

I would think his is the only way to get the most out of this list. I specify what I like about a certain performance (and what I don't like) and ask if anyone has found (and enjoyed) these qualities in any other performances. My example was speed and clarity of voice (read, little vibrato). Take for example my favourite aria, "Können Traenen meiner Wangen." I think the speed Gardiner takes it is too fast and would prefer something closer to the speed Klemperer takes it (though not necessarily THAT slow). I also like the pristine quality of the counter-tenor, though Otter is excellent. Michael Chnace is a fine singer and his performance of "Erbarme Mich" is nearly perfect (the best I've heard at least). Who are the alto soloists in Herreweghe's version and what are his speeds like in comparison to Gardiner's. Who else has a sound similar to Gardiner's version?

Also, has anyone heard James Bowman's CD of Bach cantatas (I forget which numbers). He is my favourite counter-tenor (his recordings of Purcell are amazing). There also exists a CD with Bowman singing "Erbarme Mich" but it is BWV 7 hundred something. Same thing as the SMP aria?


Fasolis v. Herreweghe and the B Minor Mass

Harry J. Steinman wrote (July 28, 2000):
Hi everybody! A few days ago I commented that I'd just gotten Diego Fasolis' recording of the Minor Mass (Arts ARZ-47525) and expressed how much I'd enjoyed his Magnificat (BWV 243)/BWV 21/Motet BWV 225 (Arts ARZ-47374) even compared to Herreweghe.

Well, I have a brand-new stereo (Yippee!) and I sat down with Fasolis and Herreweghe for a "Battle of the Bands" and I gotta tell you: This one is tough! But overall, I believe that I enjoy the Fasolis more! They are both about the same tempo and I'm happy with both sets of soloists. But I believe that the singers in the Fasolis stable sound more involved (to my uneducated ears) and I hear the instrumentation a bit more clearly. I also think that overall, Fasolis recording has more "presence".

I may write more, singer v. singer; aria and chorus v. aria and chorus. What a happy dilemma: Trying to figure out which one I like more!

Anyway, if you like the Motets, the Magnificat, the B Minor Mass or BWV 21, you owe it to yourself to acquire some of Fasolis' excellent work.

Well, I gotta go back to work. Sigh.


NY Times Review of Herreweghe B Minor Mass, with Andreas Scholl

Teri Noel Towe wrote (August 24, 2000):
Click here: Music Review: From Mostly Mozart, Mostly Bach, With a Phalanx of Thrills and Trills


Herreweghe 2 v. 1, was B Minor Mass Recordings

Harry J. Steinman wrote (February 3, 2001):
Matthew...I have Herreweghe's first Minor Mass...what can I expect to hear as differences on the second recording? You think it's worth the dollars?

Riccardo Nughes wrote (February 3, 2001):
(To Harry J. Steinman) The second recording by Herreweghe is very similar to the first one (same tempi), but Andrea Scholl is wonderful in the Agnus Dei...

Matthew Westphal wrote (February 4, 2001):
(To Harry J. Steinman) Yup. More assured - and more subtle - instrumental work; from the choir, a smaller, leaner, clearer and more luminous sound (that's the only word I can use for it - the choir's sound glows); better soloists (Scholl much, much better than wobbly Patriasz, plus Prégardien, Gens, Zomer, Kooy). Most notably, perhaps, PH's second B Minor Mass was the first recording of his I heard that didn't seem to lack anything in exuberance (where exuberance was warranted, of course) - and that had always been PH's only weakness in Bach. (Other than his continued resistance to OVPP, of course!)

Johan van Veen wrote (February 5, 2001):
(To Matthew Westphal) Unfortunately I don't agree with your view. I think that the soloists don't blend very well. Personally I can't stand Johannette Zomer. Why her star is rising in the world of early music is beyond me. Her voice is like a block of concrete. I have heard many recordings, which she totally ruined with her heavy vibrato. As far as I remember - I got a review copy, but after doing my job I dumped it - she sings the Domine Deus with Prégardien - even he starts to shiver. Véronique Gens didn't impress me either.

Generally speaking I am not as impressed by Herreweghe's Bach recordings lately. They are just too smooth for my taste - too much legato, a lack of the crispness and the sharp "attack" which characterised his earlier recordings. On the whole I still prefer Herreweghe's first recording, even though that isn't my favourite version. But I still can't find a recording, which really satisfies me :(


Herreweghe Mass in Bm

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (July 23, 2002):
Just letting you all know that I've decided on getting the Herreweghe Harmonia Mundi version, so if anyone has any serious objections to this, then please speak up before I order it on Wednesday.

By the way, I prefer W.F. Bach's additions to BWV 80 over his father's original, less suited intent.

Robert Sherman wrote (July 23, 2002):
Matthew Neugebauer wrote:
< By the way, I prefer W.F. Bach's additions to BWV 80 over his father's original, less suited intent. >
I agree, but having performed the 1st trumpet part I must say it is a killer, in some respects harder than anything JS wrote. The difficulty lies in the high notes that must be picked off immediately after long rests.

Rev. Robert A. Lawson wrote (July 23, 2002):
[To Robert Sherman] This is off message a little bit, but I was wondering if any of you have read Andrew Parrott's book The Essential Bach Choir, and what you though of it? What about his production of the B minor Mass?

Stephen A. Kay wrote (July 23, 2002):
[To Matthew Neugebauer] Waterstones in Birmingham (0121 631 4333) are having a classical sale and they currently have the Herreweghe Mass in B minor (the original 2 CD version without the Magnificat) for £15.99.

If they do mail order on sale items suggest you give them a call.

Ludwig wrote (July 24, 2002):
[To Robert Sherman] I do not know many trumpters these days who would say any of Bach's trumpet parts are easy especially when one uses the instruments of the type he used in his scores. Modern trumpeters try to get around this by using a Piccolo Trumpet in B flat or A. I have been told that there is but never have heard or seen a Piccolo Trumpet in G(the next G above B flat) that can easily hit the extreame high notes above the second high C above middle C and supposedly the player can achieve the next c above this if there were ever parts written this high.

I assume that you know much more about the history of the trumpet than the rest of us but for the sake of those who may not ---let us say that something happened to trumpet plafter or around 1750 that resulted in the playing techniques of the past becoming a lost art or nearly so. No one seems to know what happened.

The complaint put forth herein is one of the more common ones I get from trumpeters when I am planning a performance or rehearsing a group. If you were the only one playing then your conductor must have had great faith in you and held your playing in high esteem as it us usually the custom to provide extra trumpets as a security measure when hitting the high notes. So perhaps you deserve a compliment.

David Harbin wrote (July 24, 2002):
[To Rev. Robert A. Lawson] Bach listers should watch out of the Parrott SJP which is being re-released at superbudget price on Virgin Doubles soon.


Herreweghe's MBM

Sato Fumitaka wrote (March 20, 2004):
I am currently listing to Herreweghe's MBM. I am overwhelmed by the decent performance here. I feel I like almost all Herreweghe's vocal recordings that I have with his musical interpretation. By contrast, I prefer sonority of Koopmans vocal recordings.

Jack Botelho wrote (March 20, 2004):
[To Sato Fumitaka] May you elaborate a little on what you mean by Koopman's sonorous approach? I very much like what I have heard from Herreweghe as well. His direction of Claudio Monteverdi's "Magnificat", the final work of Monteverdi's 1611 collection "Vespro della Beata Vergine" on the Harmonia Mundi label, is without a doubt one of the greatest renditions of western sacred music on record.

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 20, 2004):
[To Sato Fumitaka] The first one or the second one? Herreweghe has recorded it twice. I wouldn't want to be without either one of them....

(I like almost everything he's done, too...another highlight in his repertoire is his two recordings of the two versions of Faure's requiem.)

Sato Fumitaka wrote (March 20, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] It is the second recording of Mass in B minor (BWV 232) by P. Herreweghe (July 1996). I have yet to get the first recording (1988).

Recently I have been often listening to Rifkin and Parrott's rendering of MBM, and when I turn to Herreweghe's I am very moved by the decent rendering by him. Of course music has multiple dimension and performances cannot be linearly ordered by a single or a few factors. However, in this case, I feel it might be a typical case that the truth lies in the middle.

Sato Fumitaka wrote (March 20, 2004):
[To Jack Botelho] At this moment what I can say, temporarily, is that I love the sound of instruments heard in Koopman's performance. When I have more to say about Koopman's recordings I would post my view.(Currently I am listening to Easter Oratorio BWV 249 performed by Koopman 1998.)


A praise for Andreas Scholl

Juozas Rimas wrote (January 7, 2005):
I want to express my admiration with Andreas Scholl's performance of the Agnus Dei aria from the Mass (Herreweghe 1996 recording). I haven't heard better alto singing - either from a female or male. And, most importantly, the ensemble is playing at the same level as Scholl is singing. So often we can hear great instrumental part and non-satisfactory singing and vice versa, but here is the rare occasion where every element is top-notch.

This package of supreme vocal and instrumental parts reveals the composer's work in all its glory. Previously, I was avoiding the Agnus Dei, regarding it a beautiful, popular but a bit worn-off piece (like the "air on the G string"), not understanding fully it was due to the poor performances I was coming across. Yesterday I listened to this "worn-off" piece 4 times in a row with not a shadow of weariness that I sometimes feel when listening to long pieces of music.Herreweghe's dark, soft strings and the suitable slow tempo revealed the composition being so polished, so exhaustive. And there is no da capo section at the end, everything is different but related. I felt in many occasions that the next note and the melodies in whole cannot
be anticipated, foreseen, and this gave the music absolute immunity to "wear and tear" on repetitive listening. Having listened to a considerable amount of Baroque music, I got the impression that even stylistically this aria, transcends the epoch and soars somewhere above the regular composers' output of the time.

I cannot but call the aria true super music and the Scholl/Herreweghe performance a super-performance.


2009 NYC Herreweghe BWV 232

Arthur Robinson wrote (March 29, 2011):
Douglas Cowling writes:
<< Without doubt, it was the most insensitive and willful interpretation of the Mass that I have ever heard. >>
< Tell us more! >
Extremely fast, clinical, and metronomically rigid. Utterly devoid of warmth or emotion.

Bach for the computer age.

Ehud Shiloni wrote (March 29, 2011):
[To Arthur Robinson] "Warmth" can be a subjective matter, however "extremely fast, clinical, and metronomically rigid" could be just the way Sebastian wrote it. It does not necessarily precludes having an emotional impact, sometimes even a highly intensive one :-)

Teri Noel Towe wrote (March 30, 2011):
2009 Alice Tully Hall Herreweghe BWV 232

[To Ehud Shiloni] I also was at that Herreweghe abomination in 2009.

I agree wholeheartedly with AR.

I am confident that Sebastian Bach would have been most unhappy and that that appallingly heartless performance was NOT "just the way Sebastian wrote it".

The interpretation was dead in the water, and, for me, the only emotional impact it had was one of extreme revulsion.

Ehud Shiloni wrote (March 30, 2011):
[To Teri Noel Towe] Just to set the record straight I shall add that I did not personally attend that particular performance, and my own comment was of a general nature and not intended to express an opinion about it.

It seems that Herreweghe had scored at least two strikes against his effort at NYC..:-)

I wonder if the two members who were present are willing to compare what they heard with the two recorded Mass in B Minor by Herreweghe - the 1988 version [which was not at all "metronomical" but which, IMHO, lacked energy and "panache"] and the 1996 version [which sounded much better, but was still not really exciting for me].

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 30, 2011):
Teri Noel Towe wrote:
< I also was at that Herreweghe abomination in 2009. >
Teri, you really must learn how to express an opinion (smile)

Teri Noel Towe wrote (March 30, 2011):
[To Ehud Shiloni] Here is what I had to say about the 1988 version, in my critical discography of the Mass, which was a chapter in Alan Blyth's anthology "Choral Music on Records", which was published by the Cambridge University Press nearly 20 years ago:

Philippe Herreweghe's recent recording of the Mass, on the other hand, is joy to the ear. It is the gentlest and most introspective interpretation on records, magnificently paced, and both taut and exciting when the mood requires. His twenty-one member Collegium Vocale, Ghent, sings the choruses with an enthusiastic and energetic accuracy, and his quintet of soloists is also first rate, particularly male alto Charles Brett and tenor Howard Crook.

If you are interested in the complete discography, it is available on line at:

I will have to listen again to the 1996 recording.

I will say, however, that a major reason for my disappointment in 2009 was how little that performance resembled the one from 1988.

Ehud Shiloni wrote (March 30, 2011):
[To Teri Noel Towe] Wow! Many thanks for your insightful and detailed comment.

One thing becomes very obvious - in matters of taste there will always be a wide range of opinions ...:-)

I personally prefer the "Bach with Cojones" sound, and Herreweghe's 1988 version sounded a bit "dreamy" for my taste. I suspect that when you re-visit the 1996 version you will find it less to your liking, while with me the opposite was true.

In any case - many thanks again for the comment, which helps those who were not present to get a "feel' of the event.

P.S. When time permits I'll certainly delve into your discography - I am no scholar [and that by a longmeasure, to say the least] but I am sure to find gainful insights there. Thanks.


Mass in B minor BWV 232: Details
Complete Recordings: 1900-1949 | 1950-1959 | 1960-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-2009 | 2010-2019 | Recordings of 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 | Part 18
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]

Philippe Herreweghe: Short Biography | La Chapelle Royale | Collegium Vocale Gent
Recordings of Vocal Works:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | General Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Individual Recordings:
Cantatas BWV 29, 119 & 120 - P. Herreweghe | Christmas Cantatas from Leipzig - P. Herreweghe | Weinen Klagen.. Cantata BWV 12, 38 & 75 - P. Herreweghe | BWV 232 - P. Herreweghe | BWV 244 - P. Herreweghe | BWV 245 - P. Herreweghe
Table of recordings by BWV Number

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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