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Bach: Missae Breves BWV 233 & 236 / Pygmalion

Bach,J.s. / Pygmalion / Pichon
Release Date: 11/09/2010 
Label:  Alpha Productions   Catalog #: 170  
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Raphaël Pichon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pygmalion
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



BACH Missae Breves : in F, BWV 233; in G, BWV 236. O Jesu Christ, meins lebens Licht, BWV 118 Raphaël Pichon (cond); Eugénie Warnier (sop); Terry Wey (alto); Emiliano Gonzalez-Toro (ten); Christian Immler (bs); Pygmalion O & Ch (period instruments) ALPHA 170 (60:56 Text and Translation)

Read more /> Listening to Bach’s Missae Breves is a little like going to a school reunion. Not the least of the fun of reconnecting with old friends is seeing how they have changed since the old days—a career move here; a little extra weight there; a touch of newfound sophistication; but a tad less hair than you remembered. Then you realize that under the surface they have hardly changed at all. So it is with the four Lutheran masses. All of their movements are presumed to be parodies of older works (though some sources are lost), which is undoubtedly why they have been undervalued for so long. But since we now appreciate how much of Bach’s mature output was the result of his endless refining and tinkering we can accept the Missae for what they are—pure Bach. So when we detect the opening movement of Cantata 79 in the Gloria of the G-Major Missa, or an aria from Cantata 102 in the Qui tollis of the Missa in F, we greet them like long-lost friends—especially when they are rendered with the style and grace they are given in these splendid performances by Raphaël Pichon and his early-music ensemble Pygmalion. I was sufficiently impressed by Pichon and Pygmalion’s earlier recording of the other two masses ( Fanfare 32:4) to anticipate this release, and I am in no way disappointed. Pichon’s lively direction is consistently engaging, and the two new soloists, Terry Wey and Christian Immler, fit seamlessly into the ensemble.


The earlier disc included a motet of doubtful origin. The motet filler in this disc is unambiguously Bach’s, but it was mistakenly classified as a cantata (No. 118) in the initial BWV catalog. It’s a solemn work, movingly rendered by Pygmalion’s singers and players.


My standard recommendations for the Lutheran masses have been Herreweghe and Koopman (in the complete cantata series), but Pichon/Pygmalion merits a spot in the conversation.


FANFARE: George Chien
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Works on This Recording

1. Missa brevis in F major, BWV 233 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Raphaël Pichon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pygmalion
Period: Baroque 
Written: after 1735; Leipzig, Germany 
2. Missa brevis in G major, BWV 236 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Raphaël Pichon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pygmalion
Period: Baroque 
Written: after 1735; Leipzig, Germany 
3. O Jesu Christ, mein Lebens Licht, BWV 118 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Raphaël Pichon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pygmalion
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1723; Leipzig, Germany 

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