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Mass in B Minor Bwv 232 Import, Original recording reissued

15 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, Original recording reissued, June 4, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

MUSICA CLASICA/CLASSIC MUSIC

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 4, 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Import, Original recording reissued
  • Label: Angel Records
  • ASIN: B00005RFSB
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #212,789 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Reviewer on May 27, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
No performance of Bach's B minor Mass could ever be totally dull, but the recording by Harry Christophers and the Sixteen, which is included in the Brilliant Classics Complete Bach Box, comes close. I listened to part of it last night, and decided to search through other versions in my collection to find the best! A foolish idea, of course, but I dug up the original release on vinyl of Parrott's offering, with the divine Emma Kirkby singing soprano. The "shtick" for that performance was the decision to sing everything, choruses included, one on a part. There were outcries of delight and despair at the time. Hearing it again, after some years, I'd say it sounds amazingly vibrant and musical, with the soprano-alto duets surpassing those of any subsequent performance. I like it so well that I'd buying this re-released CD version immediately.

The "best" is elusive. John Eliot Gardiner's recording of 1990 has by far the most thrilling instrumental passages, and the most emotive overall interpretation. Philippe Herreweghe's more orotund choral sound and instrumental stateliness is wonderful, also. Those are the only three choices worth considering: Parrott, Gardiner, and Herreweghe. A real Bachophile will need to have all three.

Whoa! Same day, afterthought. I forgot the excellent and quite distinct performance conducted by Ton Koopman, who takes the slow and mournful movements more poignantly than anyone else. If a crucified and resurrected B minor is what you crave, then Koopman is your best choice.

Oy! Next day: I've been justly chided for haste in declaring only three recordings worthy of interest. Aside from those three, there are also fine performances by Koopman (noted above), Suzuki, and Leonhardt.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 14, 2003
Format: Audio CD
This is my favorite recording of the Mass in B Minor. Working on a small scale (one singer per part, as opposed to the more usual larger chorus), Parrott creates a performance that is warm, intimate, and joyous. Kirkby's and Van Evera's sopranos blend beautifully. The alto parts are taken by a boy whose voice is passionate and not all that smooth, which only adds to the overall "human" feeling of the performance. There's a lot of disagreement about whether Bach should be performed "big" or "small." (This is probably very much a matter of personal taste. Parrott's small-scale version of the St. John Passion, for instance, seems thin to me -- I like Suzuki's bigger recording with the Bach Collegium Japan.) But with the B-minor Mass, in this particular version, small works. The richness of the music is still there, but with the grandeur and remoteness of the larger chorus pared away, you're somehow aware that real people (albeit gorgeous-voiced ones) are singing it. Other recordings make me admire the Mass; this is the one that makes me love it.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Le Frisson on January 10, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Parrott and Rifkin's approaches, based on the theory of 'one singer per part', cultivate a different kind of taste in Baroque music. People who are used to large choirs might find their versions significantly lacking in grandeur and power at the first listening. But as I said, it's an acquired taste, and once the penetrating clarity of a smaller choir starts to set in, you'll find a completely different Bach, clean, crisp and full of vigour. A perfect antidote to those so called 'interpretations' and mawkish romanticism imposed on the true Baroque. Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Derek Lee on December 16, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Those who have read my previous reviews of baroque music might be very surprised that I'm enthusiastic about this release, as I have always leaned toward grand scale in these works, but as I get older (and hopefully wiser), I realise there are many convincing ways of performing these works. In particular, just because there is only one voice per part here doesn't mean that it is lacking something. I now feel it is possible to bring out Bach's cosmic vision with any size ensemble, what matters is that the performers (in particular the conductor) share Bach's vision, as Parrot clearly does here. What changed opened my mind about the performance of Bach's sacred works was realising that ensemble size does not make grandeur, but rather the size should correspond to the intimacy or lack thereof of the acoustic. An ensemble of this size in, say, Carnegie hall in summer would sound totally lackluster, because the acoustics would be insufficiently rich, whereas in the small, cold, highly resonant spaces that Bach performed in, one voice per part can sound totally appropriate. No matter what size group is used however, the performance will be lacking unless there is vision, and the artists here clearly posess it. The tempi and dynamics are very well judged, always natural and inherently musical, never sound like some artificial excercise. Comparing with Gardiner's contemporary release is very revealing, as I find the way Gardiner approaches this music to be completely stiff and mechanical, lacking totally in humanity. Ultimately what matters most of all is that the performance be a human one, and this certainly is.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By DAVID BRYSON VINE VOICE on May 22, 2005
Format: Audio CD
This recording dates from Bach's tercentenary in 1985. I had been used all my life to the B minor Mass given the epic treatment - not on the Crystal Palace Handel Festival scale, but with a large orchestra and chorus. To this day I'm only partially convinced that the new one-voice-per-choral-line style is the only way the work can be done. What Bach allegedly `intended' doesn't seem to me to settle the issue - I suspect that if he had had any opportunity of any kind to give a performance he might have been quite flexible regarding its scale. This is true after all of much choral music of the time. Handel availed himself of big battalions when he could get them, and he had 500 performers for Zadok the Priest on one occasion, although that work makes its effect perfectly well with a small chorus. In general the pseudo-purist view that there is only one way of doing things was a later phenomenon. Had you known that nearly all the music of the B minor Mass is actually recycled from Bach's earlier works? There is a flaw somewhere in the romantic reasoning that so sublime a composition must have descended from on high, the composer swept along on a divine afflatus that dictated its unique perfection. Even the Sanctus itself, perhaps the greatest thing in a work where transcendental greatness seems the norm, dates from the composer's 30's. If the music itself was put together on such a mix-and-match basis, surely there can be more than one way of performing it.

What a scholarly interpretation like this ought to do for us is to make our minds more flexible and our receptivity to the music more adaptable. The scale of the forces employed really has nothing to do with the scale of the inspiration or of its impact on us.
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