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Bach: Mass in B minor, Cantata BWV 56 / Shirley-Quirk, Baker, Marriner

Bach J.s. / Marshall / Baker / Asmf / Marriner
Release Date: 04/05/2011 
Label:  Eloquence   Catalog #: 4802338   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret MarshallSamuel RameyDame Janet BakerRobert Tear,   ... 
Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the FieldsSt. Anthony Singers
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BACH Mass in b. 1 Cantata No. 56 2 Neville Marriner (cond); Academy & 1 Ch of St. Martin in the Fields; 2 St. Anthony singers; 1 Margaret Marshall (sop); 1 Janet Baker (alt); 1 Robert Tear (ten); Read more class="SUPER12">1 Samuel Ramey, 2 John Shirley-Quirk (bs) DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 2338 (2 CDs: 119:00)

Neville Marriner’s B-Minor Mass is almost as old as Fanfare . I reviewed its initial vinyl release in March/April of 1979—before we had begun to assign volumes and numbers to issues of our mag (unofficially it was 2:4). Marriner was at the top of his game then, copiously recording with the Academy mostly Baroque repertoire to general acclaim. Over the years Marriner’s standing has slipped somewhat, owing in large part, I suspect, to the ascendance of the period-instrument movement. That, in my opinion, is unfortunate. Somehow, Marriner has been lumped with those dreaded “sewing-machine” practitioners. He did (does), in fact, allow the music to speak for itself; his modern-instruments performances were bright and lively but in no way mechanical. His recordings, still very listenable, served as a bridge from Richter (himself a bridge from, say, Mengelberg) to Harnoncourt. In the spring of 1979, Harnoncourt’s version was the only period-instrument B-Minor Mass on the market. Times have changed.

I liked Marriner’s B-Minor Mass in 1979, confirmed my good opinion of it when I listened to the CD version for Fanfare 10:1, and now welcome it back in Decca Eloquence’s bargain-priced line. Its virtues are still relevant. The singing and playing are excellent overall with outstanding contributions from the soloists, both vocal and instrumental. Tempos are on the brisk side, but not excessively so. Marriner molds his interpretation gently, not obtrusively. I warmly renew my recommendation of the recording—a particular favorite of Marriner, by the way—not only to listeners who may prefer the sound of modern instruments but to all.

A fine performance of the popular bass cantata Ich will den Kreutzstab gerne tragen (BWV 56) by the estimable John Shirley-Quirk provides added value to this offering.

FANFARE: George Chien
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Works on This Recording

Mass in B minor, BWV 232 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Marshall (Soprano), Samuel Ramey (Bass), Dame Janet Baker (Mezzo Soprano),
Robert Tear (Tenor)
Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1747-49; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 119 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen, BWV 56 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  John Shirley-Quirk (Baritone)
Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  St. Anthony Singers
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1726; Leipzig, Germany 

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