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Js Bach: Mass In B Minor, Bwv 232 [DVD]

3.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Format: PAL
  • Subtitles: German, English, French, Italian, Japanese, Spanish
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Tdk Mediactive
  • DVD Release Date: 3 Dec. 2001
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005RHIO
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 317,302 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

From Amazon.co.uk

Recorded in 2000 at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig where the composer worked as Cantor for 25 years, this performance of Bach's Mass in B minor is a commemorative concert marking the 250th anniversary of his birthday. The conductor here, Georg Christoph Biller, was himself Cantor in 2000, while most members of the ensemble have strong links with the Bach tradition. Hence, this is a faithfully authentic, if orthodox rendering of the work. The Mass itself, however--composed in 1748-9, a year or so before he died--is somewhat unorthodox. To begin with it's a Latin mass, itself an odd choice for a protestant Cantor, and even so does not follow the conventions of a Catholic mass, split as it is into four rather than five parts. Using the full range of his compositional skills, it seems that what the ailing Bach intended here was church music that transcended the bounds of creed, a glorious musical valediction that soars aloft into the cathedral rafters and beyond. Certainly, this is the feeling evoked in the performances of English soprano Ruth Holton, among others. The power of the performances is poignantly contrasted with visual extracts of Bach's original score, his enfeebled handwriting indicative of his failing health. Yet the Mass in B minor has succeeded in achieving immortality and universality--a fine last testament from a composer who seems to have more resonance with contemporary audiences than most of his classical descendants.

On the DVD: The aspect ratio is 16:9. There are various subtitles but no extra features. --David Stubbs

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Recorded in 2000 at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig where the composer worked as Cantor for 25 years, this performance of Bach's Mass in B minor is a commemorative concert marking the 250th anniversary of his death. The conductor Georg Christoph Biller, holds the same post as Bach did more than 250 years ago. Since other reviewers did not point out any good elements for this performance I will try to focus on them. Although I agree that the intonation of the choir is not always perfect, this is not the only thing you should take into consideration for buying this DVD. The choir is an all-male chorus (and they are not professionals). This is perfectly acceptable for that era and they really try to do their best (which is very good indeed). The size of the choir though is much bigger than that anticipated in Bach's times. I do not mind watch them sharing scores. Some parts are tricky for them but I share their joy (and strain) in parts like "cum sancto spirito", "Sanctus” and “Osanna in excelsis”. All soloists are good (especially Kaus Mertens, the bass). Instead of an alto this performance uses a countertenor (Matthias Rexroth), who is very good and adds to the authenticity. The Gewandhausorchester Leipzig is excellent throughout. Their forces are diminished as required by this baroque masterpiece, they forget their Mendelssohnian roots and never sound romantic, even if their practices are not totally authentic (their instruments of course are not - yes you miss the pleasure of valveless trumpets). Picture and sound are very good. Detail is crisp despite some minor edge enhancement. Instrument groups and choir are well defined especially in DTS (plain stereo is not bad at all). Camera work really serves the performance (bravo to director Robert Coles).Read more ›
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By A Customer on 9 Feb. 2006
I highly recommend this. And I profoundly disagree with the comments of the earliest reviewer. Yes, im sure that a more 'perfect' rendering could have been achieved by 'mature' performers singing it for the umpteenth time, in a recording studio. But if you want a wonderfully fresh, moving, enthusiastic performance by a group of young people who are so obviously giving of their very best - then this is the one. To me, this is what music, and music-making, is all about. I loved it.
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The big problem with this performance is obvious from the opening Kyrie. It is the choir. The boy sopranos and altos sing with poor intonation and feeble, unsupported tone. The tenors and basses are more convincing but they are young and their voices are not yet well focussed or settled. Views of the choir show cramped bodies and twisted necks sharing copies of the music! On a pleasing note the work of the orchestra and soloists is of a superior standard. Unfortunately the whole affair is dragged down by the prominent chorus.
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