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HIPster Wars - News from the Bach Front - Communiqué 73,
This review is from: J.S. Bach - Mass in B Minor, BWV 232 (Audio CD)
While I enjoy Kuijken's work in Haydn, his traversal of the Mass in B Minor is a shocker.
It's one voice per part all the way. That's not to my taste. Others - usually the thin-lipped variety - enjoy it. To my mind, if Bach had demanded this practice, he would have merged their allocations in the score rather than delineating them as he did. Translated into practice, it means that traditional thumpers such as the Gloria in Excelsis, Cum Sancto Spiritu, Et Expecto Resurrectionem and the Sanctus are sung stylishly and pass ever so uneventfully. It also begs the question: since when has clarity been an antonym of power? Surely any conductor worth their salt can balance the dynamic?
All the soloists are pleasant enough. Vibrato is in use.
La Petite Band blights this endeavour. Listen to the Quoniam Tu Solus Sanctus in its entirety: inadvertently, this is Bach prefiguring Mozart's Ein musikalischer Spaß. The Cum Sanctu Spiritu is equally ramshackle. And is someone using a bottle-top banger at the commencement of the Qui Tollis? The Qattara Depresssion is the lumpy, four-square opening to the Agnus Dei: surely Ma and Pa Kettle's Barnyard Band could have played it with more lustre! How did this pass muster? Even when it plays somewhat in tune, the thinned-down orchestra - in its reverberant rumblings - could be likened to a fatty on a spring mattress. Clipped phrasing is minimal: for that we are grateful.
This is the most subjective of questions but dare one ask: what of the Pascal Mystery? This is Madrigal City, not a Mass.
If you enjoy small-scale, antiseptic Bach which is shorn of grandeur and largely in tune, Christmas - sorry, Yuletide - has come early: this is for you. Or alternatively, if you have just had a quadruple heart-bypass and seek calm in your convalescence, this `umble performance will not raise your pulse whatsoever.
Herreweghe is a much safer option (Bach: Mass in B minor). Nor does he does shy away from Bach's spirituality. Better still is (Bach: Mass in B Minor BWV 232 / Cantata BWV 56 Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen). Hear Janet Baker sing the Agnus Dei; die blessed.
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Initial post: 13 Sep 2013 17:31:36 BDT
Last edited by the author on 13 Sep 2013 18:03:13 BDT
I've been reading your reviews for a few years now, and whilst I occasionally find the 'SPECTRE' HIP Communiqués droll, I prefer it when you delve a little deeper into the music as in this review, drawing on your considerable range of literary and philosophical references, not to overlook your knowledge of recorded repertoire. Your Bruckner reviews, for instance, especially those pertaining to Celibidache's EMI discs, make for the kind of inspired and insightful review that may once have graced Gramophone's pages in some Golden Age, but which now are perhaps limited to the Amazon commentariat. (Or, once in a while, IRR.) That is to say, they make me want to hunt down those discs toute de suite.
They may well inspire me to contribute my own thoughts on this or that disc, especially those lesser known and, thus, seldom reviewed. In any case, if you are looking for a new(ish) take on Bach, may I recommend Hermann Max. He is the dark horse of the Bach catalogue, unheralded, unsung, but with performances that seem to sit somewhere in between pre-HIP and HIP performances, and so are perhaps, then, ideal? à chacun son goût!
His Bach: Mass in B Minor and Bach: St Matthew Passion are well worth a listen - the latter is especially good singer-wise.
In reply to an earlier post on 15 Sep 2013 09:57:52 BDT
Last edited by the author on 15 Sep 2013 09:58:38 BDT
Bernard Michael O'Hanlon says:
Thropplenoggin - greetings. Apologies for the delay on my part. I took my 12 year old son on a bushwalk. Upon our return, the Real Boss had a list of jobs to do . . . . .
First, thank you for taking the interest in my reviews. I am grateful. Such as they are - not much - the SPECTRE reviews make more sense on Amazon.com where my 'Beloved Adversary' is in residence. Thank you for the recommendation. If they are accessible, I will hunt them down.
Again, such as I am, I urge you to pen some thoughts on your own (and please let me know you when you do so). I may not have much wattage to my name (you may well have more than I) but someone or other once told us to let our lights shine: this is one avenue to do so.
Best wishes in every way, B
Posted on 15 Sep 2013 17:39:53 BDT
'[M]ay once have graced Gramophone's pages in some Golden Age'?
Oh, now that is too too utterly.
And did Bernice fall down stairs and accidently reproduce itself?
Wonders never cease.
Posted on 15 Sep 2013 18:33:27 BDT
Bernard Michael O'Hanlon says:
Thropplenoggin - Fools Delight in Airing Opinions is a low level stalker. As there is "not much going on in his life", he loves to replicate himself here on Amazon. To some extent, this helps to redress the industrial accident he suffered a few years ago when he sustained the worst injury of them all. In consquence, every so often he adopts a she-male persona to broadcast his new status.
Poor bugger. He is in my prayers.
In reply to an earlier post on 23 Sep 2013 13:42:02 BDT
It begins: Schubert:- Death And The Maiden Quartet and String Quintet In C Major
More felicity anon,
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