I am rehearsing Bach's B Minor Mass in preparation for a performance, and there are a lot of notes for members of the choir to learn! I bought this CD to help me get to know the work. It was not what I expected, as many of the choral numbers are actually sung by the four soloists (with or without a ripieno chorus where required). In a way this was disappointing but it was also very good for my particular purpose, as there was much greater clarity in the individual parts than there normally is in a choral number performed by full choir. Emma Kirkby was of course wonderful. I would have liked a more informative blurb with the CD, in particular explaining more about the reasons for performing it in this unusual way.
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.
Whilst it has been said that this recording of Bach's Mass in B Minor is a touch clinical, I have to admit I actually prefer this to other recordings. The soloists are very good and both Emma Kirkby and Panito Iconomou have richly evocative voices. The choir is also very good and Parrott conducts them all with aplomb. This piece (and often this recording in particular) is often recommended by various sources as a `must have' to get your classical collection started, in fact that is how I came to find this, and I have to say after listening to more classical music in general and other recordings of this I have to agree. It is a gentle way to ease yourself into a Mass of this kind and shouldn't overwhelm you. I still enjoy putting this on at odd moments and this is one recording you will keep coming back to.
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