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Bach: Mass In B Minor Hybrid SACD, SACD

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Frequently Bought Together

Bach: Mass In B Minor + Bach: John Passion (St John Passion) (SACD - plays on all CD players) + Bach: Matthew Passion
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Product details

  • Conductor: John Butt
  • Composer: J.S. Bach
  • Audio CD (31 May 2010)
  • Please Note: Requires SACD-compatible hardware
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Hybrid SACD, SACD
  • Label: Linn records
  • ASIN: B003GT37O8
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 68,309 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Mass in B Minor, BWV 232 - Various Performers

Product Description

Product Description

The Dunedin Consort,directed by John Butt,add another ground-breaking album to their portfolio.It is a revealing, soloist-led performance,like no other which was named Editor's Choice by Gramophone.Bach's Mass in B Minor is undoubtedly his most spectacular choral work and the Dunedin Consort's performance enables a level of clarity and expression that is not traditionally a feature of modern choral performance.The five soloists, sopranos Susan Hamilton and Cecilia Osmond,alto Margot Oitzinger,tenor Thomas Hobbs and bass Matthew Brook, give virtuosic performances full of musicality. [The]performance is powerful and beautifully shaped.Sunday Times.Surely no other recording of Bach's B Minor Mass bounces along with such joy as this.(four stars)The Times.Bach's B-minor Mass has many attractive features.Independent on Sunday.It's sensational.It's a knockout.Another award winner,perhaps?The Herald.You can really lose yourself in this performance.(four and a half stars)ClassicsToday.com.This constantly changing texture makes us listen afresh to the beauty of Bach's astonishing vocal writing.A definitive recording. The Observer.Spine-tingling...an excellent recording.International Record Review.Lovers of this great work will find much to appreciate-and even discover anew.BBC Online.

BBC Review

One of the most celebrated choral masterpieces, Bach's Mass in B Minor is a glittering compilation of the composer's "greatest hits": written towards the end of his life, most of the mass's music was recycled from earlier works which Bach felt represented his art at its very best.

No one would dispute that the massed choir treatment favoured in the past by the likes of Eugen Jochum and Carlo Maria Giulini, while effective in its way, is not "authentic". More controversial is scholarship suggesting Bach wanted the polar extreme: a 10-voice ensemble with just one singer per part. Several recorded versions have adopted this approach, with varying degrees of success, from Joshua Rifkin's pioneering 1982 account on Nonesuch to Marc Minkowski's 2009 Naïve release. Now John Butt and the Dunedin Consort & Players, who have made a name for themselves with acclaimed performances of baroque choral works using minimal forces, aim to "present the music as if for the first time"–no small feat with such a well-known piece.

Butt's direction is generally sound, sometimes inspired. The initial Kyrie deftly combines a measured, serious tread with vital buoyancy and momentum; the lively Cum Sancto Spiritu has terrific flair, and an invigorating flourish in the headlong sprint to its final Amen; the Osanna swings serenely. Impressive throughout is the crisp, animated playing of the small-but-perfectly-formed instrumental ensemble (just seven strings at its heart). The chief benefits of the one-to-a-part choir are agility and clarity, particularly welcome in the fiendishly complex fugues. The tutti sound certainly doesn't lack oomph, but some passages may feel a bit weedy at first.

The set's biggest drawback is the inferior calibre of its vocal soloists compared to many other versions (Minkowski's boasts a very strong line-up). Only bass Matthew Brook displays character and maturity–notably in a splendid Quoniam with delightfully chugging bassoons and pungent solo horn. The juvenile sopranos (Emma Kirkby sound-alikes without her expressive power) are especially bland: there is much more to say about the beautiful Laudamus te, for example, than is offered here, despite its sensitive violin solo. It's a shame that an otherwise engaging performance is let down in this way; nevertheless, lovers of this great work will find much to appreciate–and even discover anew. --Graham Rogers

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Teemacs on 27 May 2010
Format: Audio CD
First of all, confession time. I heartily dislike Joshua Rifkin's approach to the Bach cantatas and his subsequent massacre of some of the most marvellous music ever written. I don't care how much scholarly justification he has, I bought one cantata CD, listened to it once and gave it away. In my view, Bach needs a proper chorus to give it a bit of oomph in the big numbers. To me, they seem to cry out for it. You do NOT get majesty with four soloists.

Anyway, who cares how it was actually played back in Bach's day? This is music for the ages, and should not be stuck in a stylistic straitjacket. The point of the exercise is surely to give voice to the artistic and aesthetic concepts of which the music is capable, not to regard it as a museum piece occasionally to be respectfully dusted off and given a scholarly airing. To me, a decent chorus (such as Gardiner's Monteverdis) lets the thing sing and dance and jump and shout and encourages you to make a complete fool of yourself by waving your hands in the air and bellowing along in your own key.

So, when I saw the dreaded Rifkin name on this set, my heart sank. I have just made a BIG mistake, I thought. Even noting that this set employs some extra ripieno singers didn't improve my humour.

So, I sat down to listen, without too much expectation - and I confess I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't as awful as I expected. In fact, it was really quite good. Some "choral" bits were simply too anaemic - the opening "Kyrie" and stunning "Hosanna" with its dazzling soaring trumpets need a decent chorus - but others came over surprisingly well and full-blooded. And I must confess that the smaller number of singers does let you hear more clearly Bach's wonderful contrapuntal lines.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D. K. Martin on 29 July 2010
Format: Audio CD
An eye-opener, this (or ear-opener).Totally different from most rcds of this work, and I possess about half-a-dozen renditions purchased over the space of 50 yrs on LP, CD etc. There is nothing "coy" or petite about this Consort.
First-rate well-balanced CD/SACD rcd, clear as a bell. No strident ear-grating "original" instument sounds.....and I cannot help feeling that this is what Bach wanted.
Buy this Linn CD even if you own lots of others!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By andras291 on 25 Feb. 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Excellent recording of a magnificent work. Linn records are definitely on the way to produce the "digital with human face" Great seller, fast service. Thank you.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Barry on 3 Aug. 2010
Format: Audio CD
Having been familiar with traditional recordings for many years, and avoiding period instruments like the plague, I was bowled over by this recording. The orchestra is excellent and should please both period and modern instrument aficionados.
The choruses are a revelation sung in this way - the clarity of the counterpoint is far superior to that of massed(!)voices. I for one will not go back to my older recordings!
The criticisms of the female soloists are perhaps valid to a small degree, but not to the extent of spoiling the recording; after all it is the choruses which make the B minor mass so sublime.
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