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Bach: Mass In B Minor / Harnoncourt, Hansmann, Et Al


Release Date: 02/26/2008 
Label:  Teldec Das Alte Werk Catalog #: 433468   Spars Code: AAD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Max van EgmondRotraud HansmannKurt EquiluzHelen Watts,   ... 
Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Concentus MusicusChorus ViennensisVienna Boys' Choir
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Low Stock: Currently 3 or fewer in stock. Usually ships in 24 hours, unless stock becomes depleted.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

When this version of the B minor Mass appeared in 1968, it created something of a stir since it was the first recording on period instruments of work that was still a sacred cow amongst 'mainstream' conductors. This account challenged established preconceptions on every performance practice issue one would care to mention. 'Authenticity' as a cult was yet to sow its seed of doubt on intuitive musicianship but, thankfully, not before Nikolaus Harnoncourt and others had unselfconsciously expressed their passion for baroque music in what Teldec's Das Alte Werk series reminds us was a golden age of historically-aware performance. If this recording was considered as little more than a slightly perverse curiosity in 1968, we can observe, in Read more retrospect, how sane and satisfying it is. In matters of finesse, time certainly has its say: the sheer virtuosity required in the concerted movements, such as the "Cum Sanctu Spiritu" and the "Hosanna", reveals that Harnoncourt was making significant demands on his singers and players. The chorus is an inconsistent animal, soft-centred in the opening Kyrie, especially the men who seem reticent alongside the bold and fearless Vienna Boys' Choir. Indeed the upper voices are what give the larger movements such a distinctive flavour, shimmering and open throated trebles and the rich grainy sound of boy altos making their mark at almost every turn, especially in the "Gratias agimus", which is sensationally constructed by 1-larnoncourt (as too is the identical movement in No. 29 in the complete cantatas).

One of the main attributes here is that timbre and articulation had yet to become 'regulated' in a fashion perpetrated so eagerly in the 1980s. This is perhaps most evident in the arias, some of which are performed with supreme tenderness, elasticity of phrasing and a Sweet spontaneity of vocal colouring; "Domine Deus" may not be flawlessly sung but the dialogue between Rotraud Hausmann and Kurt Equiluz, and the intimacy of the accompaniment, results in a particularly moving utterance, as does "Et in unum deum", which breathes as naturally as any I know. Harnoncourt's booklet essay, old-fashioned in its didactic if unselrjustifying tone, still conveys a common sense which is admirably reflected in the graciousness of Helen Watts's "Qui sedes" and the absence of point-making which given the novelty of the circumstances would have been understandable. But instead, Harnoncourt never loses sight of the music and its spiritual dimension (the Credo is particularly luminous), never resorting to an over-emphasis of the pulse which can make the dance-inspired movements sound contrived.

So, apart from its importance as a document of its age, this is a version which still has much to say to us now. It has little of the sheen and polish of present-day recordings but a raw commitment and lithe pioneering spirit which is often intoxicating. Warts and all it grows on you too, which is recommendation enough it would seem, even if it is tempered by the 'high tech' expectations of Gardiner, Hickox, Christophers and the like. Excellent transfer sound despite an odd fade-out at the final cadence of "Et in terra pax".

-- JF-A, Gramophone [4/1995] Reviewing earlier release
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Works on This Recording

1.
Mass in B minor, BWV 232 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Max van Egmond (Bass), Rotraud Hansmann (Soprano), Kurt Equiluz (Tenor),
Helen Watts (Alto), Kurt Euiluz (Tenor), Emiko Iiyama (Soprano)
Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Concentus Musicus,  Chorus Viennensis,  Vienna Boys' Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1747-49; Leipzig, Germany 
Notes: This selection is sung in Greek and Latin. 

Sound Samples

Mass in B minor BWV232 : I Kyrie eleison: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : I Kyrie eleison
Mass in B minor BWV232 : II Christe eleison: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : II Christe eleison
Mass in B minor BWV232 : III Kyrie eleison: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : III Kyrie eleison
Mass in B minor BWV232 : IV Gloria in excelsis: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : IV Gloria in excelsis
Mass in B minor BWV232 : V Et in terra pax: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : V Et in terra pax
Mass in B minor BWV232 : VI Laudamus te: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : VI Laudamus te
Mass in B minor BWV232 : VII Gratias agimus tibi: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : VII Gratias agimus tibi
Mass in B minor BWV232 : VIII Domine Deus: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : VIII Domine Deus
Mass in B minor BWV232 : IX Qui tollis: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : IX Qui tollis
Mass in B minor BWV232 : X Qui sedes: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : X Qui sedes
Mass in B minor BWV232 : XI Quoniam tu solus: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : XI Quoniam tu solus
Mass in B minor BWV232 : XII Cum sancto spiritu: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : XII Cum sancto spiritu
Mass in B minor BWV232 : XIII Credo in unum Deum: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : XIII Credo in unum Deum
Mass in B minor BWV232 : XIV Patrem omnipotentem: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : XIV Patrem omnipotentem
Mass in B minor BWV232 : XV Et in unum Dominum: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : XV Et in unum Dominum
Mass in B minor BWV232 : XVI Et incarnatus est: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : XVI Et incarnatus est
Mass in B minor BWV232 : XVII Crucifixus: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : XVII Crucifixus
Mass in B minor BWV232 : XVIII Et resurrexit: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : XVIII Et resurrexit
Mass in B minor BWV232 : XIX Et in spiritum: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : XIX Et in spiritum
Mass in B minor BWV232 : XX Confiteor: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : XX Confiteor
Mass in B minor BWV232 : XXI Et expecto: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : XXI Et expecto
Mass in B minor BWV232 : XXII Sanctus: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : XXII Sanctus
Mass in B minor BWV232 : XXIII Hosanna: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : XXIII Hosanna
Mass in B minor BWV232 : XXIV Benedictus: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : XXIV Benedictus
Mass in B minor BWV232 : XXV Agnus Dei: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : XXV Agnus Dei
Mass in B minor BWV232 : XXVI Dona nobis pacem: Bach, JS : Mass in B minor BWV232 : XXVI Dona nobis pacem

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