Tuesday, 24 June 2008

114. Johann Sebastian Bach - Mass In B Minor (c. 1749)


Title: Mass In B Minor
Performers: Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists
Director: John Eliot Gardiner
Year: 1985
Length: 2 hours


If you enjoyed the choral parts of Bach's passions this is very much the place to go to next. The Mass in B minor is the corollary of Bach's choir work and goes all the way from tender to absolutely noisy.

As an advantage in relation to the passions, the Mass has no recitatives obviously, but it never quite reaches the levels of some of the choirs in Matthew's or the opening choir in John's Passion. Still, the whole of the mass is quite enjoyable.

The two Cds of this edition actually split the mass neatly into the Kyrie and Gloria in the first CD and the rest in the 2nd CD which was most certainly composed later. Still the highlight for me is the last movement of the Agnus Dei, a properly explosive end to the last Bach vocal composition recording on this list.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

It is suggested that the piece belongs in the same category as the Art of Fugue as a summation of Bach's deep lifelong involvement in choral settings and theology. It is generally regarded as one of the supreme achievements of "classical" music. Alberto Basso summarises the work as follows: "The Mass in B minor is the consecration of a whole life: started in 1733 for 'diplomatic' reasons, it was finished in the very last years of Bach's life, when he had already gone blind. This monumental work is a synthesis of every stylistic and technical contribution the Cantor of Leipzig made to music. But it is also the most astounding spiritual encounter between the worlds of Catholic glorification and the Lutheran cult of the cross." It has been described in the 19th century by Hans Georg Nägeli as "The Greatest Artwork of All Times and All People." Even though it had never been performed, its importance was appreciated by some of Bach's greatest successors - by the beginning of the 19th century Forkel and Haydn possessed copies, and Beethoven made two attempts to acquire a score.

Collegium Vocale / Philippe Herreweghe, Et Ressurexit :

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