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Bach: Mass In B Minor Bwv 232 / Minkowski, Crowe, Lunn, Wey, Balzer, Et Al

Release Date: 03/31/2009 
Label:  Naive   Catalog #: 5145   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Colin BalzerLucy CroweTerry WeyLuca Tittoto,   ... 
Conductor:  Marc Minkowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Musiciens du Louvre
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 41 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

R E V I E W:


BACH Mass in b Marc Minkowski, cond; Lucy Crowe (sop); Joanne Lunn (sop); Julia Lezhneva (sop); Blandine Staskiewicz (sop); Nathalie Stutzmann (alt); Terry Wey (alt); Colin Balzer (ten); Marcus Brutscher (ten); Christian Immler (bs); Luca Tittoto (bs); Les Musiciens du Louvre (period instruments) NAÏVE 5145 (2 CDs: 107:04 Text and Translation) Read more

The first thing you are likely to notice about this new B-Minor Mass is the package. The two discs are set in sleeves that are bound into a 100-page hardcover book. The book, in addition to personnel, banding, and recording information, contains an interview with conductor Marc Minkowski, an essay by George B. Stauffer, and musician biographies, all in three languages, and texts in four (including Latin, of course). Printed on heavy stock, it has the same dimensions as a standard jewel case—which means that it will fit in your CD cabinet—but it is about two-thirds as thick as the old multi-disc box. It is, in a word, elegant. Score one for Naïve.

The next thing you may notice is the roster of singers, 10 strong. Minkowski notes Rifkin’s hypothesis that “most of Bach’s vocal works . . . were performed not by the choir . . . but by a group of highly trained soloists under the direction of the Kantor. The theory is one thing, and I must say it convinces me. Actual practice is another.” To reconcile these two things, Minkowski settled on a ripieno of 10 singers with soloists emerging from the ensemble. His guiding principle for which to use is basically how it sounds. He acknowledges the obvious fact that the choice of soloists is crucial to the whole enterprise, and fortunately he has chosen well. For his instrumental ensemble Minkowski opted to use “a real orchestra,” with a 4-4-2-2-1 string complement and winds as required by the scoring. For the continuo he alternates a harpsichord with the organ.

So how does it sound? Actually, very good. Minkowski, formerly a bassoonist in Philippe Herreweghe’s ensemble, has emerged as one of the leading Baroque specialists of the day. His is a dramatic conception of the Mass—not overtly theatrical, but in the sense that this is not absolute music, but music whose function is to illuminate the text. He does employ contrasting tempos and is not averse to rhetorical flourishes. It’s a convincing, non-doctrinaire realization of his vision of this supreme masterpiece, well worth hearing.

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Works on This Recording

Mass in B minor, BWV 232 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Colin Balzer (Tenor), Lucy Crowe (Soprano), Terry Wey (Countertenor),
Luca Tittoto (Bass), Julia Lezhneva (Soprano), Markus Brutscher (Tenor),
Christian Immler (Bass), Joanne Lunn (Soprano), Nathalie Stutzmann (Alto),
Blandine Staskiewicz (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Marc Minkowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Musiciens du Louvre
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1747-49; Leipzig, Germany 

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