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on 29 February 2012
Ten years separate this 1988 recording of the Bach B Minor Mass for Virgin Veritas from Philippe Herreweghe's later recording with Harmonia Mundi:it makes for an interesting comparison.Amazon reviewers on the other side of the Atlantic clearly love this first version for it's naturalness and purity - and one can understand why.Herreweghe's unique vision of interpreting Bach - a vision which even distinguishes him from other period-instrument performers - was evident in the early days when he was "discovered" by the late Gustav Leonhardt,and has remained virtually unchanged in the intervening years.So,to that extent,if you already have the later version,don't expect any surprises.
However,repeated listening to the two versions does highlight important differences,some of which - the choice of soloists for example - may be largely down to personal taste.Peter Kooy (bass) has been consistently part of Herreweghe's line-up for many years,and his performances can always be expected to produce singing of heart-felt commitment and faultless technique.Kooy in fact appears on both versions,the only difference being that he shares the lower voice honours with Hanno Muller-Brachmann in the later version.No tantalising choices to be made there then.In fact the only soloist from the version under review who would emphatically be my first choice is the principal soprano Barbara Schlick.That is not in any way to question the quality of Johannette Zomer's contribution,but Schlick for me is the unique Bach soprano of our time, and if for no other reason,might persuade others to reach for this version - even if they already possess the later one.For all the technical solidity of Charles Brett (alto),he is simply no match for the incomparable Andreas Scholl whose rendition of the Agnus Dei in the later version is simply sublime,notwithstanding some rather curiously inconsistent Latin pronunciation.As for the tenor part,who would want to choose between Howard Crook and Christoph Pregardien,except that some may find more beauty of tone in the latter's performance.
So,where does that leave us?This first recording of Herreweghe's is certainly full of charm and a kind of innocence, and for those qualities alone is probably worth having.However,by the time Herreweghe's Ghent forces tackled this masterpiece for a second time,one senses that we have a consummation of all that the Belgian master had learned during years of study and practice.One only has to listen to the richness of the instrumental and choral textures to appreciate that not everything is down to superior recording.Perhaps most telling of all,though,is the ethereal qualities which Herreweghe achieves in the choruses - qualities which this mystical masterpiece demands but which are rarely heard.
For Bach/Herreweghe afficionados,then this first version is well worth having - especially at this ridiculously low price - but not in preference to the later one which, for this reviewer at least,is one of the miracles in the history of recorded music.
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on 18 December 2013
This is an extremely sensitive recording of a composition that has attracted much academic attention over the decades with regard to performance practice. There is no one answer, so this rendition stands alone. And very good it is too. Fast delivery. All excellent.
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on 6 September 2013
Herreweghe applies his hugely successful "cantata" formula to the B minor Mass with wonderful results. His usual team, along with the Collegium Vocale choir and orchestra, is all here and the sound is absolutely beautiful.
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on 22 February 2010
This is another classy Bach rendition.
I am no musicologist, so there's no point in my attempting deep analysis. Suffice to say that this is one of the greatest pieces of music in the Baroque canon and performed thoughtfuly but vigourously in this recording.

Thouroughly reccomended
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on 11 February 2013
Simply a beautiful recording. It feels as though the singers are letting the music flow without forcing any notes. Runs are sung in a fluid manner without resorting to the 'choppy' sound favoured by some choirs.
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on 2 February 2016
I am waiting for it to "hit" me! I am told this is very good...depends what mood you are in...It's only a piece of music.. I have certainly heard better and worse.. sometimes cdz jump about a bit...
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on 19 January 2016
Slightly disappointing. Lovely orchestral sound but voices sound recessed and lacking colour.
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on 13 July 2016
needed for next choir performance sounds heavy going
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on 26 October 2014
Very difficult to sing. Our choir, Danesborough Chorus is performing it on 16th November at the Milton Keynes theatre, along with the Milton Keynes Chorale. Getting to know it now, very impressive work.
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on 25 April 2013
I normally find Bach music boring, but I heard this mass and immediately liked it!
But it does not make me change my mind about the rest of his music!
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