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Bruckner: Mass in F Minor / Janowski

Bruckner / Orchestre De La Suisse Romande
Release Date: 03/26/2013 
Label:  Pentatone   Catalog #: 5186501   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Anton Bruckner
Performer:  Lenneke RuitenIris VermillionShawn MatheyFranz-Josef Selig
Conductor:  Marek Janowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande OrchestraBerlin Radio Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BRUCKNER Mass No. 3 in f Marek Janowski, cond; Lenneke Ruiten (sop); Iris Vermillion (mez); Shawn Mathey (ten); Franz Josef Selig (bs); Berlin R Ch; Suisse Romande O PENTATONE 5186501 (SACD: 62:13)

For a concert Mass considered by some to be the greatest contribution to the genre since Beethoven’s Missa solemnis , there are surprisingly few current listings of Bruckner’s F-Minor Mass, or any of his other Masses, for that matter, though a number of his Read more shorter sacred choral works are well represented on disc. With but one exception noted below, this is the first new recording of the F-Minor Mass I’m aware of to join the existing lineup in quite some time, and it’s a beauty. From intently devotional whisperings of Kyrie eleison to fervently joyous shouts of Hosanna in excelsis , Marek Janowski leads his soloists, choir, and orchestra in a performance that rings true with reverence and rejoicing at every turn.

Long-time survivors still cling to life in the catalogs—Sergiu Celibidache leading a Munich-based performance (EMI, 1990); Eugen Jochum and Colin Davis, both leading the Bavarians (Deutsche Grammophon, 1962, and Philips, 1988, respectively); Heinz Rögner leading the Berlin Radio forces (Berlin Classics, 1988); Matthew Best, leading his Corydon Singers and Orchestra (Hyperion, 1992); Helmuth Rilling leading his Stuttgart forces (Hänssler, 1992); Franz Welser-Möst leading the London Philharmonic and Linz Mozart Choir (EMI, 1995); and Daniel Barenboim leading the New Philharmonia orchestra and chorus (EMI, 1971).

This list may not be 100 percent complete, but to the extent that it is, as you can see, this new recording of Bruckner’s F-Minor Mass, but for the above alluded to exception, is its first in almost 20 years. That exception is Philippe Herreweghe’s 2008 remake of the Mass with the period-instrument Champs-Élysées Orchestra and the Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus for Harmonia Mundi. Paul Ingram reviewed it in 32:4, but made no mention of Herreweghe using a new critical edition of the score. I don’t have the recording, so I can’t speak to that question, but it’s actually moot, for here is the crucially significant point: Not only is Janowski’s new PentaTone version a magnificent performance and recording of the work, but this is the first recording of the work I’m aware of—on modern instruments—to make use of the new 2005 critical edition by Yale University professor and Bruckner scholar/specialist, Paul Hawkshaw.

Like so many of Bruckner’s works, the F-Minor Mass also saw its share of revisions, initially by the composer himself in 1876, 1877, and 1881, and again between 1890 and 1893. Then Robert Haas put out his edition in 1944, which served as the authoritative version until 1960 when Leopold Nowak published his edition. Unfortunately, Franz Steiger’s otherwise informative album note doesn’t provide any details on Hawkshaw’s tweaks to the score, referring the reader instead to the explanatory notes in the critical edition. I searched every which way I could think of to find some online source that would divulge said details, but to no avail. So, not one to give up easily, I did the next best thing; I e-mailed Dr. Hawkshaw directly at Yale and asked him if he’d be kind enough to cite an example or two of editorial changes he made to the score. He was more than kind enough, responding as follows:

“The 2005 score is, so far as we know, the last reading of the Mass that Bruckner left us. It is closer to Nowak than to Haas. Even here there are some relatively minor ‘upgrades’ to the solo parts in the Christe section of the Kyrie and the soprano in the Agnus Dei. The most audible textual changes affect the orchestration at the beginning of the second Sanctus where Nowak incorrectly omitted some of the string parts; and at the end of the Benedictus where both Haas and Nowak added two editorial returns to Tempo Primo as the movement dies out. The result of the last change is that the incredibly beautiful ending of the Benedictus takes a little longer in the new edition, which I can’t imagine anyone would mind because it is so beautiful. Finally there are a large number of articulation changes in the string parts where both Haas and Nowak misread Bruckner’s staccato strokes as accents—the narrow v-shaped Keile in German. The result should be a lighter and bouncier string presence in many passages, something I am sure the choir will appreciate.”

I thank Dr. Hawkshaw for sharing this information. If you have one or more of the earlier mentioned recorded versions of the Mass, and you acquire this new one, you can compare the differences yourself, now that you know what to listen for. All I can say is that this performance by Janowski, his four vocal soloists, the Berlin choir, and the Suisse Romande Orchestra is of a grace, grandeur, and nobility guaranteed to overcome the resistance of even those who are most Bruckner resistant. For them, as well as for those who need no persuading, this is urgently recommended.

FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

Mass no 3 in F minor, WAB 28 by Anton Bruckner
Performer:  Lenneke Ruiten (Soprano), Iris Vermillion (Mezzo Soprano), Shawn Mathey (Tenor),
Franz-Josef Selig (Bass)
Conductor:  Marek Janowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  Berlin Radio Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868/1893; Linz, Austria 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Fine Modern Recording of the F Minor Mass December 17, 2013 By Gail M. (Goleta, CA) See All My Reviews "Bruckner's beautiful third mass is not often recorded. Here it receives a performance that emphasizes clarity and tranparency rather than sheer power. The Pentatone recording matches the performance with extraordinary clarity. Choir, soloists, and orchestra are well balanced to produce a very natural sound." Report Abuse
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