Notes and Editorial Reviews
Mass in b
Peter Seymour, cond; Bethany Seymour (sop); Sally Bruce-Payne (sop/alt); Jason Darnell, Joshua Ellicott (ten); Peter Harvey (bs); Yorkshire Bach Ch; Yorkshire Bar Sol (period instruments)
SIGNUM SIGCD265 (2 CDs 103:06
Text and Translation)
Less than a year ago (see
34:4) I wondered whether Yorkshire was a serious destination for admirers of Johann Sebastian Bach, and I was pleased to discover that it
was. Peter Seymour’s recording of the
Saint John Passion
with Yorkshire’s Bach Choir and Baroque Soloists was, if not quite earth-shattering, certainly well worth hearing. Now Seymour and company have undertaken an even greater challenge, the B-Minor Mass, with comparable success.
Seymour’s Mass is a muscular one with brisk tempos, dance-like rhythms, and choral singing that bathes the listener with waves of energy. The choir is large by current standards (57 singers, weighted toward the top) but well focused and disciplined. Listeners who prefer a choral ambience will take solace here. Three of the five soloists come out of the choir—soprano Bethany Seymour and the two tenors. I was unable to determine which tenor sings which aria, but neither disappoints. Nor have I been able to determine whether the Seymours are related in any way. Even if they are, there is no misguided nepotism at work—Bethany’s contributions are sterling. The imports, Sally Bruce-Payne and the veteran Peter Harvey, too, were well chosen. Harvey’s Quoniam is a highlight of the recording, matched by Bruce-Payne’s Agnus Dei.
Seymour’s vigor gives the Christe eleison and the second Kyrie a feeling more of insistence than of supplication, but his transition from Crucifixus to Et resurrexit is electrifying, and his Dona nobis pacem brings the whole to a triumphant and satisfying conclusion. Overall, there’s a welcome vitality and that is most exhilarating. Yorkshire is, indeed, a serious destination.
FANFARE: George Chien
Works on This Recording
Mass in B minor, BWV 232 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Peter Harvey (Bass),
Bethany Seymour (Soprano),
Jason Darnell (Tenor),
Sally Bruce-Payne (Mezzo Soprano),
Joshua Ellicott (Tenor)
Yorkshire Baroque Soloists,
Yorkshire Bach Choir
Written: 1747-49; Leipzig, Germany
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