Notes and Editorial Reviews
Mass in b
Diego Fasolis, cond; Roberta Invernizzi, Lynne Dawson (sop); Gloria Banditelli (alt); Christoph Prégardien (ten); Klaus Mertens (bs); Coro della Radio Svizzara, Lugano; Sonatori de la Gioiosa Marco (period instruments)
BRILLIANT 94359 (2 CDs: 103:30)
This year is the 100th anniversary of Stravinsky’s
Le Sacre du printemps
, named by another publication as the most influential musical composition ever. I have my doubts about
that, but I have secured tickets to a concert that features
on its program. Another publication published a lament that
has lost its impact because conductors and orchestras have mastered its intricacies. Performances are, if not exactly routine, no longer perilous. Easy to say, I suspect, if you are in the audience, but we have come to expect flawless execution.
But this is about another masterpiece, more revered in some circles than Stravinsky’s landmark. Bach’s Mass in B Minor was once declared “the greatest musical composition of all ages and nations.” Possibly true. It has been suggested that it be the earth’s calling card to the rest of the universe. Well, maybe, if Western classical music is literally “universal.” Performances of the B-Minor Mass were once rare, special events, as were its recordings. A part of the B-Minor Mass’s cachet was the belief, probably true, that Bach never heard it sung in its entirety. Stravinsky didn’t hear the premiere of
, but only because it was drowned out by the din in the hall. He heard a concert performance shortly thereafter and conducted it countless times over his lifetime. Meanwhile, performances of Bach’s Mass have become increasingly common. Listeners in large urban centers can expect to pick and choose. Collectors now have to scratch their heads before selecting a version to buy—and most of their options are good or better. Some of this increased activity may be related to the downsizing of the ensembles required to mount a performance, but much of it is due to demythologization. Bach’s Mass is great music, but it’s not magic. It may also be a sign of the democratization of the recording industry. We’re no longer dependent on the major labels to shape our perceptions.
Diego Fasolis, I suspect, is not a household name in this country, nor is the Swiss Italian Radio Chorus, of which Swiss-born Fasolis is director. Although it has made a number of recordings for Naxos, the same can be said of The Musicians of the Joyous Marca (a region adjacent to Venice). Yet this reading of the Mass is consistently satisfying, well thought-out, and well sung. Three of Fasoli’s soloists, Lynne Dawson, Christoph Prégardien, and Klaus Mertens, are well known in the field; all perform to expectations. Roberta Invernizzi and Gloria Banditelli are less well known, but both prove to be equally capable. Fasolis sets the tone in the great opening Kyrie and maintains his focus through to the final Dona nobis pacem. His unusually heavy accents at the beginning of the Crucifixus create a chilling effect, an image of Jesus’s crucifixion that is painful and real, not ethereal. It is washed away by dance-like Et Resurrexit, one of many reminders that much of Bach’s music is rooted in the dance. Fasolis’s Mass can be a religious experience, as Bach intended, but it’s not intimidating. This recording won’t challenge Gardiner’s classic version, but it is both a pleasant surprise and a welcome bargain. The recording was made in 1997 for the Arts label and picked up in 2012 by Brilliant Classics. Text and translation are not provided but are available online.
FANFARE: George Chien
• Comprehensive booklet notes in German, with English translation.
• Complete sung texts and English translati- on available on www.brilliantclassics.com. Read less
Works on This Recording
Mass in B minor, BWV 232 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Christoph Prégardien (Tenor),
Roberta Invernizzi (Soprano),
Gloria Banditelli (Mezzo Soprano),
Lynne Dawson (Soprano),
Klaus Mertens (Bass)
Italian Switzerland Radio/TV Chorus,
Sonatori de la Gioiosa Marca
Written: 1747-49; Leipzig, Germany
Be the first to review this title