In 1682 Salzburg celebrated the 1,100th anniversary of its founding as an archdiocese. Among the celebratory events was a feast day in Salzburg Cathedral on October 18 at which the Missa Salisburgensis was performed. There has been some question as to the composer of the work, since a copyRead more of the manuscript was discovered in the mid 19th century (the autograph has not survived), but current scholarship ascribes it to Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber.
This massive score has 53 parts, divided into two eight-voice vocal choirs and six instrumental choirs, along with two continuo groups, which would have been arranged in the four galleries of the cathedral, with the brass instruments in the aisles of the cathedral. The result is a brilliant work of stunning power and magnificence. The Missa is combined on this recording with a motet in honor of St. Rupert found in the same manuscript and written for the same forces.
The Missa and motet have been recorded several times, most notably by Reinhard Goebel and Paul McCreesh on an Archiv CD (the only other recording currently listed at arkivmusic.com). Both recordings are superb, vocalists and instrumentalists combining to blow the listener away. While there is little to choose between the two recordings, there are some differences. The Archiv recording is supplemented with sonatas by Biber and two of his contemporaries. The NCA recording does not have these shorter works, but I find its vocal soloists marginally preferable in some instances. However, the NCA recording benefits from multichannel sound, for which a work such as this could have been created. The sound on the Archiv recording is good enough that listeners need not feel the need to replace it. For purchasers coming to the work for the first time, the NCA recording is the obvious first choice.