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Mass in B-Minor BWV 232 Import

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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  • Conductor: Jörg Straube
  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Audio CD (1 Jan. 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Thorofon
  • ASIN: B00006F1NI
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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With characteristic wisdom, Kuijken recognises that there is no one right way to perform Bach’s b minor Mass, being, as it is, a work of transcendent sublimity. However he is convinced, for a number of reasons, that it is perfectly valid to perform the piece with a (very) small band of instrumentalists and with one voice to each singing part. He specifically mentions the benefit of clarity this approach brings to the work.

The natural response when one hears the word ‘clarity’ in this context is to think of clarity of line, of polyphonic thread. That form of clarity is certainly in evidence here. But my initial response to Sigiswald Kuijken’s performance was not so much to recognise clarity of texture but rather clarity of tone. The sounds produced in this performance have a glorious and, in my experience, unique luminescence. It is not by chance that the photographer responsible for the photographs in the booklet expatiates in his notes on the quality of light he found in the recording venue. I cannot recall hearing in any other recording of this work (of which I must have heard scores) such a beautifully integrated blending of instrumental and vocal colour. Constantly the ear is captivated by the most attractive and subtle blends of colour and timbre. And both the exemplary recording and Kuijken’s little band, with their characterful instruments, allow this interplay full scope. The playing of La Petite Band is captivating throughout; they produce the most delicious and delicate sounds from their period instruments, a constant delight on the ear, with supremely accomplished tonal and phrasing sensitivity. It is almost as if light of illimitable hue and delicacy streams from the speakers rather than sounds alone!
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Format: 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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9f27390c) out of 5 stars 11 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f0836e4) out of 5 stars OVPP, A Winning Practice 12 Feb. 2004
By R. Gerard - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This is the fourth recording of the Mass in B minor to utilize the one-voice-per-part (OVPP) theory, and again, it pays of beautifully. While Rifkin, Parrot, and Kuijken have all recorded the Mass in such a configuration, Junghanel's rendition seems to be the winner here.

I noted that however fast the Sanctus, Dona nobis, and Gratias agimus tibi are executed, it is not a detriment to the sound. I believe what makes recording this large scale work with small scale forces is that the balance between each line is sounded perfectly.

The recording reminds me of Herreweghe's... reverberant, ecclesiastical sound, suitable to the music. Each soloist functions perfectly as both a soloist and a chorister. I belive that the singers and players of Cantus Colln have the uniformity of voice unmatched by any other ensemble that has attempted to play Bach's concerted church music in such a configuration.

The Mass in B-Minor under Rifkin's baton was the first to be recorded using OVPP. Nearly a 20 year old theory, Junghanel's set seems to be a revelation. It is nearly flawless. While I would appreciate the more "standard" tempos of some numbers, it is no less a revelatory pleasure to listen to.

[Update] The new recording by Minkowski uses virtually the same forces, but Minkowski prefers a more grandiose approach as a whole. Both his set and Junghanel's are excellent and highly recommendable.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f08384c) out of 5 stars If you have got this far, buy this CD IMMEDIATELY! 9 Aug. 2004
By B. Considine - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Ever since I acquired Cantus Colln's Early Bach Cantatas CD with Actus Tragicus, Christ LAg in Todesbanden, etc., I have been totally over awed by their approach to the OVPP. A big fan of the practice myself, I am now completely over whelmed by this Mass rendition. Even if you are unsure about the OVPP practice, and your main concern is that, despite the gorgeous clarity and intonation the practice affords, some sections will not sound "full" enough without a chorus- banish all fears and buy this CD. The marvelous recording and engineering of this recording is magical, and the sound is impressively huge. I was initially shocked at the attention the low-end receives, but it never interferes with the delicate textures, or the overall balance. I am the biggest fan of clarity and purity, and volume and presence are of less concern to me- but even I was satisfied and not troubled by this incredibly fat bottom-end.

Also wonderful is the detailed performance notes! For once, the record label has heard our voice and has exquisitely detailed the EXACT performers for each section of the Mass, right down to the bar-numbers for solos within movements!!!! Thank you, Jesus!

Artistically, old Konrad has nailed just about everything spot-on for my nickel, and I love the refreshingly suprising tempos, particularly the 7 part accompanied Credo fugue, Gratias, and Sanctus. They make all other recordings sound six-feet under in these sections, by comparison. This is truly a Mass rendition for the living, not the dead!!!!!!!!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f083b94) out of 5 stars The pictured title & reviews DO NOT MATCH (at the time of this review) 7 Oct. 2011
By Kerplunk - Published on
Sigiswald Kuijken & La Petite Bande's 2009 release of Bach's B Minor Mass merits an easy FIVE stars.

Please note, however, that as of 10/7/2011 the reviews that appear here are NOT for Kuijken's release, they are for Konrad Junghanel's version.

[Who knows what the future will bring. Amazon may eventually fix it, and then this note will appear -- rather confusingly -- under Junghanel's release.]
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f083960) out of 5 stars Absolutely Brilliant: My all-time favorite B-minor Mass 3 April 2004
By Frederick II of Hohenstaufen - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Out of all the Bach B-minor Masses in my large Bach collection, this is the best of the lot. Junghanel and Cantus Colln use the OVPP model to perfection, not only is the performance top-notch, the recording engineers outdid themselves. A delight to the ears.
To those who prefer a more "modern" and "romanticized" B-minor Mass, this might not be a good choice (get either of the Shaw recordings, they are both fantastic modern versions). The Hickox or Gardiner recordings are great if you want period instruments with a larger choir.
For the purist looking for a set representing more closely what Bach intended for his B-minor Mass, you won't find a better choice than this. Very highly recommended!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f087030) out of 5 stars A 21th century performance. 29 May 2011
By Simon - Published on
Format: Audio CD
It is frustrating that my english is so poor,
and especially in this case. Please, be patient.

It seems to me that Cantus Colln gives us in their performances a real glimpse
of how this kind of music will be sound deep in the 21th century.
It's really a new generation of performance.
It's not easy to explain what i mean in a positive way, so i'll try it in the opposite way:
It is not forced, not over dramatic (e.g. like Gardiner), not over introvertic, not sugar sweet (e.g. like Pierlot), not airy (like Suzuki), not heavy, not pompose, not "full of meaning", and above all - thanks God - it's not holly.

It is something very fresh, with an excellent proportion between deepness and lightness, between finesse and sauciness, between the intimate and the grandiose.

One of the reviewers spoke about fast tempo and thinness -
i really don't understand what he is talking about:
10 uber-professional singers and 19 instrumentalists are not more than enough?
We are talking about Bach, not about Mahler; about a church, not a football arena.
Besides, the tempo is superbly coherent to this music, unless one is accustomed to a Werner-like tempo.

Every one in the ensemble did a very good job, but the best here is - surprisingly -
the alto Elisabeth Popien.

I wish Mr. Junghanel will give us more recordings of German Barock,
and i wish he will give us some more Bach's cantatas and even passions.

The recording is good, though not excellent in the CD version, and you can hear the difference in the sound quality between the 2 cd's (the 2nd sounds more natural and spacious).
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