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Tombeau De Sa Majeste La Reine De Pologne - Bach / Pierlot

Release Date: 12/11/2007 
Label:  Mirare   Catalog #: 30   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Carlos MenaKatherine FugeJan KobowStephan Macleod,   ... 
Conductor:  Philippe Pierlot
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ricercar Consort
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A lovely conceit, mourning the death of Poland’s Princess Christine Eberhardine, governs this programme. It gives an interesting focus to a disc filled with performances of character and fluency. Pierlot is one of today’s more thoughtful Bach interpreters and his Ricercar Consort respond with ever more intensity.

-- Gramophone [9/2007]


BACH Mass in a, BWV 234. Prelude and Fugue, Read more class="ARIAL12">BWV 544. Cantata, BWV 198. Herzlich tut mich verlangen, BWV 727 Philippe Pierlot, cond; Katharine Fuge (sop); Carlos Mena (alto); Jan Kobov (ten); Stephen MacLeod (bs); Ricercar Consort MIRARE 30 (78:19 Text and Translation)

The Princess Christiane Eberhardine of Brandenburg-Bayreuth, the estranged wife of August II (the Strong) of Poland, died in 1727. While her husband had had to become Roman Catholic in order to acquire the Polish throne, she had remained a Lutheran. The present recording, titled “Tombeau de Sa Majesté la Reine de Pologne,” seems to be an attempt to reconstruct the Leipzig memorial service for her. In this, it resembles similar recent attempts to record various well-known masses in a liturgical context. The tricky part in this case is that the only known description of the event does not include any reference to a mass, in any key, or say much about what other music was played. Indeed, it explicitly says that after all the dignitaries had processed into the church, the proceedings began with an organ piece, after which the Ode of Mourning (“Trauer-Ode”), BWV 198, was performed before and after the commemorative oration. To be sure, the otherwise excellent notes by Gillis Cantagrel do not actually assert that the Mass was performed on that occasion but, as the recording begins with the Mass and his remarks about the Mass glide easily into a discussion of the ode, a connection is thereby suggested. He also avers that, though clearly mentioned as sitting at the harpsichord, “one can easily imagine that (Bach) was keen to play the two organ pieces at the opening and conclusion of the ceremony himself. . . .” (Christoph Wolff makes an even stronger assertion to this effect.) The Prelude and Fugue in B Minor fit the tonality of the ode, and may well have been played on the occasion, but to conclude that the piece was “specifically composed for the circumstance” is indemonstrable, though Cantagrel has made that argument elsewhere. Interestingly, Wolff notes that the noisy prelude would have allowed the instrumentalists to tune.

As for the Mass in A Minor, it must be pointed out that this was a liturgical occasion only in a very special sense. That is, it was not a funeral service (which had been held earlier and would have been unlikely to use a Gloria in any event) but a civic memorial gathering. The real problem, however, is that this is a parody mass that does not seem to have been put together before 1738. Given these contextual reservations, then, we may want to look at this recording as consisting of two parts, the Mass and the reconstructed Tombeau (as Bach calls it on his manuscript).

The Mass has the same instrumentation as the “Ode” and may have been the reason it was used here. It is performed in the modern fashion with one singer to a part, though the orchestra is bigger. In this construction, this is a very good, lively, performance, with the singers slightly more prominent than the instruments. I particularly enjoyed alto Carlos Mena’s “Quoniam” in the Gloria. Those wanting to hear all four short masses might want to try Konrad Jünghandel’s new recording with the Cantus Cölln on Harmonia Mundi.

The “Trauer-Ode” itself is another matter. Though current opinion presses hard for one-to-a-part performance, as we have here, it is hard to imagine that an occasion as publicly important as this one would not have demanded all the stops be pulled out: Bach wrote new music, the orchestra was large, prominent people were present, and a good impression had to be made. Curiously, the singers work much better in this piece as an ensemble than as soloists, though Stephen MacCloud’s light bass was a pleasure to hear. I also liked the fact that, even in ensemble, I could understand the words. Conductor Pierlot keeps things moving along, but I had no sense of being rushed. In short, given the performance choices here, this is a good version. As I am not fond of any of the other available recordings, I merely note that Ton Koopman’s, which has received generally good recommendations from George Chien, comes on Volume 4 of his Channel Classics series.

FANFARE: Alan Swanson
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Works on This Recording

Lass, Fürstin, lass noch einen Strahl, BWV 198 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Carlos Mena (Countertenor), Katherine Fuge (Soprano), Jan Kobow (Tenor),
Stephan Macleod (Bass), Francis Jacob (Organ)
Conductor:  Philippe Pierlot
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ricercar Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727; Leipzig, Germany 
Missa brevis in A major, BWV 234 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Stephan Macleod (Bass), Jan Kobow (Tenor), Carlos Mena (Countertenor),
Katharine Fuge (Soprano), Francis Jacob (Organ)
Conductor:  Philippe Pierlot
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ricercar Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: after 1735; Leipzig, Germany 
Herzlich tut mich verlangen, BWV 727 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Stephan Macleod (Bass), Jan Kobow (Tenor), Carlos Mena (Countertenor),
Katharine Fuge (Soprano), Francis Jacob (Organ)
Conductor:  Philippe Pierlot
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ricercar Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; ?Weimar, Germany 
Prelude and Fugue in B minor, BWV 544 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ricercar Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727-1731; Leipzig, Germany 

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