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Bach: Lutheran Masses / Rilling

Bach,J.s. / Rilling
Release Date: 05/27/2008 
Label:  Profil   Catalog #: 7027  
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Helmuth Rilling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Bach CollegiumGächinger Kantorei Stuttgart
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

BACH Masses: in F; 1 in A; 2 in g; 3 in G 4 Helmuth Rilling, cond; Elisabeth Speiser (sop); 1,2,4 Ingeborg Russ (alt); 1,2,4 Hildegard Rüttgers (alt); 3 John van Kesteren (ten); 1,2,4 Read more Kurt Equiluz (ten); 3 Gerhard Faustlich (bar); 4 Jakob Stämpfli (bs); 1,2,4 Erich Wenk (bs); 3 Gächinger Kantorei; Bach-Collegium Stuttgart PROFIL 7027 (2 CDs: 133:18)

“What if?” is a favorite pastime of military historians, sports buffs, and soap-opera fans, but for most music-lovers it’s pretty well limited to “What if Mozart (and/or Schubert) had lived long and prospered?” or “What if the Beatles had gone with the Best instead of swinging on a Starr?” But here’s another one for your consideration. “What if Duke Wilhelm Ernst had bent a little and given his superstar organist the title (and salary) he coveted—and deserved?” That is, what if Bach had remained in Weimar to the end of his days? Of course, we would not now have all, or nearly all, of his orchestral and chamber music, which he wrote in the Calvinist court of Cöthen—not an eventuality that we wish to entertain. But I am thinking more of Bach’s sacred choral music. In Weimar he was required to provide a cantata a month, not one a week, as he was in Leipzig. Would he have composed 20 annual cycles instead of the five (part of the fourth and all of the fifth now lost) attributed to him by his son, Carl Philippe Emanuel? And wouldn’t there have been a higher percentage of newly invented works—as opposed to the borrowings that so readily come to light in the Leipzig cantatas? In Weimar he would have had less pressure to produce and more time to reflect. Burnout, which we can’t rule out for his Leipzig tenure, might not have been an issue. Besides, he would not have had that trunk full of incomparable old scores to revive and adapt.

All this comes to mind because 20 of the 24 movements of the four so-called Lutheran Masses (or Missae breves) were adapted from existing sources; it’s not unreasonable to assume that the other four are from cantatas now lost. If the Lutheran Masses historically have been undervalued, it’s probably because there is little (if any) “original” material in them. The fallacy here is easy to expose, since “recycled” music also constitutes the greater part of Bach’s other Mass—the one in B Minor. Parody was a central element of Bach’s creative process. And the Lutheran Masses are superb examples of that process. Ignore them if you will, but you will miss some fine and characteristic Bach music.

Despite their relatively low estate, there have been several excellent recordings of the Lutheran Masses. Herreweghe’s set for Virgin remains my choice, but two newer versions are worthy contenders. The bulk of the final volume of Koopman’s complete cantata edition was devoted to the Lutheran Masses, and appropriately so, since musically the Masses are basically Latin cantatas, without recitatives or the bare chorale finales. Harmonia Mundi, Herreweghe’s usual recording venue, recently released an excellent version that has Konrad Junghänel directing a minimalist ensemble. Rilling, who made these recordings 40 years ago, knows as much about Bach as anyone. Unlike the three versions mentioned above, his employs modern instruments and a moderately larger chorus than the others. But he was certainly aware of the emerging trends in Baroque performance practice. His tempos weren’t always, but could be, as fleet as those of the most audacious authenticists, and he had moved well beyond the ponderous old style. His favorite choir, Gächinger Kantorei, alert and attentive as always in these performances, responds smartly to his direction. The G-Minor Mass was obviously recorded separately from the other three, but Rilling was able to assemble crews of reliable soloists for both sessions. The analog recording wears its years well. This reissue doesn’t change my list of favorites, but I’m confident that there is a constituency for it, and that it will serve that constituency well.

FANFARE: George Chien Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Missa brevis in F major, BWV 233 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Helmuth Rilling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Bach Collegium,  Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart
Period: Baroque 
Written: after 1735; Leipzig, Germany 
2.
Missa brevis in A major, BWV 234 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Helmuth Rilling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Bach Collegium,  Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart
Period: Baroque 
Written: after 1735; Leipzig, Germany 
3.
Missa brevis in G minor, BWV 235 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Helmuth Rilling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Bach Collegium,  Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart
Period: Baroque 
Written: after 1735; Leipzig, Germany 
4.
Missa brevis in G major, BWV 236 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Helmuth Rilling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Bach Collegium,  Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart
Period: Baroque 
Written: after 1735; Leipzig, Germany 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Lovely Listening June 13, 2014 By Wendy B. (New York, NY) See All My Reviews "Just a brief one here. this was lovely and it fits well with my current reading of Gardiner's biography of Bach. It is a clean performance that was quite moving. These were quite new to me, as I had nt realized that Bach had w rotten so many Masses other than the big B minor. Glad I got the recording." Report Abuse
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