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Bach: Mass in B minor /Herreweghe

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Product details

  • Audio CD (9 Mar. 1998)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Harmonia Mundi
  • ASIN: B000005Z2W
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 158,214 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Kyrie - Kyrie Eleison
2. Kyrie - Christe eleison
3. Kyrie - Kyrie Eleison
4. Gloria - Gloria in excelsis Deo
5. Gloria - Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis
6. Gloria - Laudamus te
7. Gloria - Gratias Agimus Tibi
8. Gloria - Domine Deus
9. Gloria - Qui Tollis Peccata Mundi
10. Gloria - Que Sedes ad dexteram patris
See all 12 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Symbolum Nicenum: Credo in Unum Deum
2. Symbolum Nicenum: Patrem Omnipotentem
3. Symbolum Nicenum: Et in Unum Dominum
4. Symbolum Nicenum: Et Incarnatus Est
5. Symbolum Nicenum: Crucifixus
6. Symbolum Nicenum: Et Resurrexit
7. Symbolum Nicenum - Et in Spiritum Sanctum Dominum
8. Symbolum Nicenum: Confiteor
9. Symbolum Nicenum: Et Exspecto
10. Sanctus
See all 15 tracks on this disc

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Flos on 27 July 2009
Format: MP3 Download
Wonderful performance, exactly evoking the 'feel' of Bach's sacred music - soaring choruses, reverent solos, stupendous drums and trumpets. But oh, dear, the quality of the recording leaves alot to be desired. There is some distortion on the first disc, particularly on certain settings of the equaliser; the choir is at times drowned by the instrumental parts and sounds like it's singing through a thick curtain. The diction of the choral parts is appalling; every word comes out as 'sssss'. I really , really wish Herreweghe and the same soloists would record this again on a different label. It would be a great pity to deprive the world of this terrific music for the sake of some poor sound engineering.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I actually had a quite good recording of this work taken from the radio during the 2012 Proms performance of it - but I had come to recognise that the BBC tends to reduce the dynamic range of what they broadcast in order to make it more acceptable for normal radio listening - and so, recently, while at YouTube for other things, I idly got a search listing for the B-Minor Mass and started listening to the opening of each of a succession of the generally pirated copies presented there as videos. I was actually seeking a large-choir performance. I'd sung as a choir bass in the work quite some years ago now in Exeter Cathedral, with Exeter College Choral Society, and was rather wanting to find a performance / recording that in reasonable degree captured and hopefully exceeded my experience of that great occasion.

I had already dismissed two performances in Notre Dame de Paris - very disappointing, for either or both of those could have been stunning, but they were both recorded very poorly, with little dynamic range - and then I got to this one, routinely clicking on it for a quick listen. As it looked to be a small-scale 'period' type of performance I expected to give it about a minute and then move on. In the event I sat here riveted! I listened for about five minutes, then bookmarked that video and moved on down the list, finding various at least somewhat larger-choir versions, but as compared with Herreweghe's version they sounded 'worthy but dull', even though some of them were tolerably like what my own Exeter Cathedral performance would have sounded from the front. To my surprise I had no real difficulty in moving on from any of those. And then I went back to Herreweghe's recording again, and was transfixed once more!
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For me this performance of the most divinest of works is the best. It is of course a period instrument performance. Herreweghe direction is full of pace and energy, with no loss of feeling. The soloists are excellent, Andreas Scholl is near sublime, and the Collegium Vocalle absolutely splendid. I have 3 other recordings, Karajan, Klemperer, Parrot and this by a long chalk is the tops. What more can I say?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 25 reviews
74 of 75 people found the following review helpful
Exquisite pitch, diction, and feeling: Exquisite Performance 5 April 2000
By David W. Strauss - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Philippe Herreweghe will gain many fans with this recording. I bought it because I had worn out my Gardner recording. Talk about a revelation! Someone else already reviewed the differences in the opening Kyrie, so I won't retread that ground. Suffice it to say that EVERY chorus, aria, and duet is handled deftly but never "nose in the air" bombastic. The Crucifixus, with it's chromatically descending ostinato, transfixed an entire room full of people when I played it recently at our "Music Night". We have them once a month, rotating who chooses the program. I have been asked to include more of Herreweghe's recording of Bach's Mass in B Minor simply on the merits of the Crucifixus. I was deeply moved also by the wonderful "Credo Patrem Omnipotentem Factorum Coeli et Terrae". This recording is so solid, that when the Collegium Vocale resolve their chords at the end of each movement, you can hear the harmonic overtones generated by their purity of pitch. I have never heard such sublime singing. They also (and this is a tough one for most choirs) have their diction so unified that it is literally impossible to tell how many voices are singing - only that they're all singing perfectly together. Get this CD. You will not regret it. Five stars is not enough, but I wasn't given the choice to award more. Bravo, M. Herreweghe!
60 of 61 people found the following review helpful
Herreweghe prooves himself again 30 Mar. 2003
By R. Gerard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
It is true that the Mass in B-Minor has rather been "taken out of the church." Doubtless, it is a great work that requires virtuosity of all it's performers, but therefore, it is easy for a recording of the Mass in B-Minor to lose it sacred feel. Take, for instance, the recording of the Mass by John Elliot Gardiner: a fine recording, but the oversized, vibrato heavy chorus and bombastic exectution might leave you less then awed.
Leave it to Philippe Herreweghe and his fine choir, instrumentalists, and soloists to surpass any recording of this work made. When Bach composed this mass near the end of his life (about 1748), he recycled his best works from his long, illustrious career. Some of these works went as far back as 1714. These recycled works were "tweaked" more or less for improvements, and so most of the Mass in B minor is actually Bach's compendium of what he thought were the highlights of his career.
And what better way to show-off Bach's pinnacle work than with Herreweghe and the Collegium Vocale! Never using more than 5 singers per part, the choir is uniform. It is a large-sounding choir and their diction is clear as a bell and each line can be heard. The "Patrem omnipotentem factorem coeli et terrae," (Bach's reworked version of cantata #171) is an exciting rendition, as are the other choruses.
The sopranos and altos (not including the male altos) in the Collegium Vocale are especially boyish sounding, a good quality for a Bach choral work, sounding closer to what Bach had in mind for his own boy choir in St. Thomas Church in Leipzig. Their voices are not vibrato-heavy, making the sound of the choir more appealingly antique and smooth.
The church-like resonance of the recording gives the Mass it's sacred atmosphere that other recordings lack. Harmonia Mundi's sound recording quality ranks the label as one of the most loved among classical music listeners.
The orchestra is similarly fine. But the real treasure is the soloists. Herreweghe's recordings always boast the some of the finest young soloists of this generation, and this record is no exception.
Bach never heard his peerless Mass in B-Minor during his lifetime. But Herreweghe has sure done Mr. Bach proud. Strongly reccomended.
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Excellence in recording; One of my favorite discs 13 July 2005
By Edmund Feingold - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I have several recordings of the Bach b-minor mass (Gardiner, Shaw, Harnoncourt and Herreweghe). Herreweghe's recording is the favorite hands-down. His artistic choices are excellent; The orchestra and chorus of Collegium Vocale Gent offer a broad and intense palette for Herreweghe's brush. This small chamber orchestra balances the voices beautifully and more succesfully than a large orchestra (Shaw). What is sacrificed in instrumental blending is more than compensated by the pronounced character of each instrument and the resulting dramatic effect. Rather than use brute force in tutti sections, Herreweghe offers subtly of line, emphasizing the genius of Bach's counterpoint with clarity. At times, an almost-spartan string section acts as a haunting backdrop for the soloists and chorus (best example 'Agnus Dei'). This is not to say that instrumental force is lacking; plenty punches through in the 'Gloria' and 'Et Ressurexit' where required, but the voice reigns supreme.

Chorus texture blends beautifully, at times sounding like powerful 4 and 5 part solo work rather than an ensemble; they lend enough force to carry through the full orchestra. Soloists are remarkable, delivering the text clearly and audibly throughout with solid intonation. I applaud the maestro's choices of sopranos Johannette Zomer & Véronique Gens (beautiful work in the 'Christe Eleison') and countertenor Andreas Scholl rather than the more common choice of a female alto; Sorry ladies, but the b-minor demands the purity of a countertenor. Scholl's voice is a perfect pairing to the oboe d'amore in 'Qui sedes ad dexteram patris' and the plaintive organ in 'Angus Dei'. Tempi are a bit fast throughout compared to other recordings but used to good effect.

I would recommend this as a first recording to anyone who is new to the b-minor mass , or as a second (third, fourth, or fifth) recording for those who own other performances. Through his period ensemble and sound judgement, Herreweghe elevates the beauty, expressiveness and drama of Bach's secular mass to a sacred status.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
One of my favorites 15 Mar. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Philippe Herreweghe is one of my favorite period conductors. Most of his recordings ended up in my possession because of the great soloists he engages. For example, this disc attracted my attention because of Veronique Gens, Andreas Scholl and Christoph Pregardien (who made a very favorable impression on me in Christie's recording of Mozart's Requiem). Yet, every time I ended up liking the recording for more than just a solo voice. Herreweghe's interpretations are always intelligent and nuanced. They appeal to me so much more than the bombastic Bach performances I grew up hearing. Herreweghe is great conducting other baroque music as well. My other personal favorites include Purcell's Hail! Bright Cecilia (Herreweghe jumps on the latest authentic performance bandwagon by casting two alto arias with a high tenor; but without lowering the pitch!); and Schutz Geistliche Chormusic (a combination of choral pieces and several Geistliche Concerte for solo voices - it moved me to tears!).
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Sublime 11 Jun. 2005
By Susan P. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Caveat: I am only 18 years old and have only been singing/listening to choral music seriously for 3 or 4 years.

Do yourself a favor and get this exquisite recording. There is intense emotion, perfect diction, light production, excellent dynamic contrast, BEAUTIFUL soloists and just about anything else imaginable in this recording. The straight tone, evened-out vibrato sound is to die for.

Some of the most beautiful and moving solo pieces are Scholl's "Agnus Dei", Pregardien and the soprano (forgot her name)'s "Domine Deus", Scholl and the soprano's "Et in Unum Dominum" and Kooy's "Et in Spiritum Sanctum Dominum". I am not a big fan of Muller-Brachman's voice, but his interpretation of "Quoniam Tu Solus Sanctus Dominus" is well done. Ah, and the "Christe Eleison" is absolutely gorgeous, too. Really, there aren't any outright bad solo tracks. Muller-Brachman's "Quoniam" is clearly the worst, and the only one I won't listen to at any given moment.

The "Qui Tollis" movement is possibly the best on the CD. You can sense the long, legato lines that Herreweghe is going for, as if the singers are pulling you along for the ride with their breath connection. The trumpets are absolutely spectacular, especially in the "Cum Sancto Spiritu" movement. If you hear that piece, and don't want to fly out of your chair, something is horribly wrong. There is something distinctively divine about this music, and for me, it is best felt on movements like the "Cum Sancto Spiritu", "Gloria in excelsis deo", "Sanctus", "Ex Expecto" and "Et Resurexit"... The ones with lots of trumpet. However, the "Crucifixus" and "Et Incarnatus est" are nearly as powerful, just in a more subdued way. While the trumpet pieces make you want to jump out of your chair, the slower movements make you want to sink into your chair and just melt. The "Credo in Unum Deum" movement is performed with an excellent sense of counterpoint in this recording, and the only slight criticism I have is that I wish there was a bit more "bass" in some of the movements. However, being a baritone myself, I am a bit biased.

I had the pleasure of singing this piece with the Choral Society of Durham this past May, and this recording is as close to perfect as I have ever found and will likely find in the future. I can not wait to sing such a divinely beautiful work of choral music again.
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