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Mass in B Minor Import


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Mass in B Minor + J.S. Bach  St John Passion + Bach: St Matthew Passion
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Product details

  • Audio CD (25 Oct. 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Import
  • Label: EMI Distribution
  • ASIN: B00000DNGZ
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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58 of 59 people found the following review helpful By d on 24 Jan. 2005
Format: Audio CD
There is considerable debate among Baroque scholars about whether or not Bach's choral works should be performed one voice per part (OVPP). Apparently, there is evidence that they were originally performed in this way, but I am not an expert so I will not pass any judgement on this.
This recording is OVPP, and, at least here, it seems to work brilliantly. It is easier to hear Bach's individual lines of counterpoint, which are often more difficult to follow than, say, Handel's. The sound is altogether more intimate, and yet the performers also seem able to rise to the grandeur of movements such as the Sanctus and the jubilation of the following Osanna in Excelsis. Nevertheless, it is in the quieter, more serene sections where this recording excels. Listen to the Et Incarnatus Est and the heart rending Crucifixus for wonderful examples. The Symbolum Nicenum section as a whole is, quite simply, perfect. It is hard to imagine the Credo In Unum Deum in particular sung any better. Overall, the small choir is excellent (especially the bass, although sometimes I found the tenor too restrained), as is the orchestra. Andrew Parrott is praiseworthy too, choosing very successful tempos and fully conveying the power of this amazing piece. I do have some criticisms- the orchestra occasionaly seems to overpower the modest choral group, and there is the slightly weak tenor whom I mentioned earlier. Nonetheless, these are only small criticisms, which occur rarely during the performance, and the tenor actually has a very beautiful voice (listen to him at the opening of the Credo, and in his Benedictus aria).
This recording will not be what everyone is looking for. If you want a more large scale, majestic performance, then Gardiner's recording may suit you better.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Klingsor Tristan VINE VOICE on 26 April 2007
Format: Audio CD
In my lifetime the number of performers deemed necessary to perform Bach's major choral works has shrunk from a fairly mammoth scale to almost nothing. Now, while I accept the authenticists' arguments about contemporary performing practice, I am still left with a niggling feeling that the sheer scale and grandeur of Bach's inspiration and conception has been short-changed by the rigorous, somewhat puritanical application of these theories. I am not pleading for a return to the serried ranks of the Huddersfield Choral Society in their heyday - those sort of numbers certainly do muddy the waters of Bach's thrilling counterpoint. Nevertheless, at the back of my mind lies a strong suspicion that at the back of Bach's mind when he was writing these works lay a sound that was fuller and richer than we get from Andrew Parrott and the leanest of forces on these discs of the great B Minor Mass. (I admit I am a little less worried as it applies to the Passions which could be argued to benefit from a more intimate scale - though even there the choruses for the `turba' seem a little sparse for a crowd baying for blood as in the `Kreuzige, kreuzige' chorus from the John Passion.)

Certainly we know that contemporaries like Handel would pretty much take as many singers as they could get for any given performance of their choral works. Pragmatism like that applied to performances from the time of the Tudor and Renaissance church composers and were still necessary even for the supremely demanding Wagner who was frequently seeking to fill out the string sections of his orchestras with extra players.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Creamguitar on 2 Jan. 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This recording was first choice in BBC Radio 3's 'Building a Library', and gets a maximum 3 star rating in the 'Penguin guide to compact discs'. The soloists are excellent and include the wonderful Emma Kirkby, who has a very natural warm voice. The tempi are generally brisk and lively throughout, making a welcome change from some other more ponderous recordings.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By AbsoluteClassical on 19 Nov. 2010
Format: Audio CD
The antithesis of, say, the Karajan recording, one might expect this, by Andrew Parrott, to disappoint . But it does no such thing. It is a totally vibrant performance and one that utilises the original/'purist' approach in the right way, which is so refreshing. None of the dull 'period' limitations seem to be in play here, as the music bounds along with strength and a real direction. Parrott controls sound and dynamics wonderfully and takes us on a very profound journey. Nothing drags, nothing grates and one is left with a feeling of awe and utter satisfaction.

The vocalists sing beautifully - measured, always just the right amount of vibrato - and they are wonderfully balanced with an orchestra totally under Parrott's control. The choruses are perfectly controlled and this makes their integral role absolutely unified. It is not only an exciting performance, but also a highly sensitive rendition. Of all the newer recordings of the Mass, this surely has to be the most sublime.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By DAVID BRYSON TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 Jun. 2005
Format: Audio CD
This recording dates from Bach's tercentenary in 1985. I had been used all my life to the B minor Mass given the epic treatment - not on the Crystal Palace Handel Festival scale, but with a large orchestra and chorus. To this day I'm only partially convinced that the new one-voice-per-choral-line style is the only way the work can be done. What Bach allegedly 'intended' doesn't seem to me to settle the issue - I suspect that if he had had any opportunity of any kind to give a performance he might have been quite flexible regarding its scale. This is true after all of much choral music of the time. Handel availed himself of big battalions when he could get them, and he had 500 performers for Zadok the Priest on one occasion, although that work makes its effect perfectly well with a small chorus. In general the pseudo-purist view that there is only one way of doing things was a later phenomenon. Had you known that nearly all the music of the B minor Mass is actually recycled from Bach's earlier works? There is a flaw somewhere in the romantic reasoning that so sublime a composition must have descended from on high, the composer swept along on a divine afflatus that dictated its unique perfection. Even the Sanctus itself, perhaps the greatest thing in a work where transcendental greatness seems the norm, dates from the composer's 30's. If the music itself was put together on such a mix-and-match basis, surely there can be more than one way of performing it.
What a scholarly interpretation like this ought to do for us is to make our minds more flexible and our receptivity to the music more adaptable. The scale of the forces employed really has nothing to do with the scale of the inspiration or of its impact on us.
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