As with the accompanying Harnoncourt St Matthew Passion utilising the same forces (minus female soloists that is in favour of countertenor and boy soprano) this set is the only one I would keep on the shelf, if I had to get rid of all the others.
All of the soloists blend beautifully and possess individual voices of ethereal beauty. The transparency achieved with smaller chamber like forces (but not ridiculously pared down like the whimsical Rifkind set which is silly!) yields a delightful, graceful performance and the strings are luminous, instruments sing clearly and voices can be heard clearly. The recorded sound is superb and in particular a pronounced stereo balance serve the music well.
Of course, you will not find the monumental grandeur of the Klemperer version on EMI, but apart from sheer weight, which is only really necessary or even effective in certain of the choral sections (such as the Credo...which in Klemperer is an unbelievable orchestral sounding march towards God worthy of the massed choirs of the Salvation Army)nothing is missing here. The incredible musical and cultural peak of achievement that is the Mass is delivered with absolute conviction and beauty of sound.
Just listen to the Domine Deus, the duet between soprano and tenor, where the strings break through like light shining down from the heavens in a religious painting...has this ever been performed or recorded so successfully?
And at this price, no Bach collection should be without it.