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on 18 September 2000
McCreesh has repeated the successes of reviving the music and spirit of the Italian and German Renaissance with this double-disc set of a potential mass format for Epiphany. He revives one of Bach's smaller mass settings, and also gives us the gorgeous Cantata BWV65, among others. The playing, particularly from the horns, who use small, high-pitched horns for BWV65, is outstanding. Organ interludes and bells provide the atmosphere, though one wishes that he could have repeated the massed choirs from his Praetorius Christmas Mass, which provided such a strong finish on that disc. In the approach to Christmas, I encourage all Bach lovers to give this serious thought, to add a Baroque feel to their Christmas music this year.
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This is another of Paul McCreesh's excellent reconstructions of a service "as it might have been celebrated" at the time - in this case for Epiphany in Bach's church, the Tomaskirche in Leipzig around 1740. Here he combines one of Bach's Lutheran masses (BWV 233, in F) and two cantatas, BWV 65 and BWV 180 and various hymns, organ pieces, bells and other components of a service for Epiphany.

The mass and cantatas are wonderful works and, as always from McCreesh, beautifully performed by a fabulous cast of singers and instrumentalists. The sound and setting of Bach's music is wonderful, the scholarship and musicianship which have gone into this recording are evident in every bar and Bach's fabulous music really shines on this disc. I have to say, though, that as an entire experience I don't like it as much as some of McCreesh's other reconstructions (like the magnificent Venetian Easter Mass for example Venetian Easter Mass /Gabrieli Consort · McCreesh). This may be a personal thing, but I find the lengthy organ interludes and congregational hymn-singing a little tedious and I tend to skip them to get to the Bach. As I have versions which I like very much of the mass (by Cantus Colln Bach - Missae Breves) and the cantatas (in the John Eliot Gardiner series) I tend not to play these discs nearly as much as them, nor as much as my other McCreesh discs.

I don't want to sound too critical. This is a very fine set with some terrific music and music-making on it, but for me it doesn't quite work as an entire experience.
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on 6 January 2015
Doesn't quite work. If I want a reconstruction of a service, DO IT, and if I want a studio recording of a cantata, I know where to go. But this odd mix of a small professional mixed choir singing the Mass and the cantatas, in the midst of the congregational works, doesn't make for an interesting disk. I don't know what group sang the cantata in Bach's time, but I certainly do know it didn't have adult females. McCreesh's Praetorius Christmette is an exceptional disk, with all the elements in place. This one misses the mark, and sadly, showed McCreesh the way forward for all the rest of his recordings, using his own professional mixed choir, and I stopped buying.
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