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Bach: Mass in B Minor, BWV 232 Original recording remastered

3.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, June 26, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

BACH:MASS IN B MINOR

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This 1972 Bach B minor Mass, live from St. Paul's Cathedral in London, is far superior to Giulini's Sony recording of the piece made two decades later. This earlier performance is still a reading of fervent spirituality, but there's a verve and forward motion sadly missing from the later studio account. The Credo burns with conviction, the choruses throughout are done with a rhythmic lift, and the solo singing ranges from adequate (soprano Jenny Hill) to superb (the great Janet Baker's Agnus Dei will bring tears to your eyes). The male soloists are fine, though John Shirley-Quirk has passing moments of unsteadiness and the throaty Peter Pears, nearing the end of his long career, takes some getting used to as he replaces tonal allure with interpretive acuity. The stereo sound is slightly grainy but almost up to studio standards, and the interesting filler is a 17-minute conversation with Giulini. This set's a must for Giulini's admirers and ranks among the best available versions of the Mass, a worthy complement to those by Klemperer, Shaw, and Jochum among the traditionalists and Leonhardt, Harnoncourt, and Herreweghe among those of the period-performance persuasion. --Dan Davis

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Kyrie (Missa)
  2. Kyrie (Missa)
  3. Kyrie (Missa)
  4. Gloria
  5. Gloria
  6. Gloria
  7. Gloria
  8. Gloria
  9. Gloria
  10. Gloria
  11. Gloria
  12. Gloria

Disc: 2

  1. Credo (Symbolum Nicenum)
  2. Credo (Symbolum Nicenum)
  3. Credo (Symbolum Nicenum)
  4. Credo (Symbolum Nicenum)
  5. Credo (Symbolum Nicenum)
  6. Credo (Symbolum Nicenum)
  7. Credo (Symbolum Nicenum)
  8. Credo (Symbolum Nicenum)
  9. Credo (Symbolum Nicenum)
  10. Sanctus
  11. (Osanna. Benedictus)
  12. (Osanna. Benedictus)
  13. (Osanna. Benedictus)
  14. Agnus Dei (et Dona nobis pacem)
  15. Agnus Dei (et Dona nobis pacem)
  16. Carlo Maria Giulini in conversation with John Amis


Product Details

  • Orchestra: New Philharmonia Orchestra
  • Conductor: Carlo Maria Giulini
  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Audio CD (June 26, 2001)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Alliance
  • ASIN: B00005A3MG
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #533,957 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By K. Kehler on December 28, 2005
Format: Audio CD
This version -- recorded in St. Paul's Cathedral in London in 1972 -- of the Mass in B Minor is wonderful. It's slightly dated now but the BBC technical team have done a superb job with the remastering of the sound. There's a reason it has been included in the BBC Legends series. You don't have to be a fan of Giulini (I have been delighted by everything I have that he has had a part in) to be interested in this excellent double CD.
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Format: Audio CD
Since I'm only giving it 1 star, I'll try to justify it only with more objective aspects.
The sound quality is so poor that it looks like it is a mono made in the 50's, and not in 1972. Not only that, there are some serious issues specifically related to the recording process, especially the microphones. For instance, the first time the male chorus comes in, they enter so loudly that it feels like "hammering" the listener. And it is not because they sing that loud, it's because their microphones are clearly too close to them, if compared to the rest of the choir. Another instance is the "Credo", where the trumpets sound as if they were off-stage. And in the Crucifixus, while the orchestra plays piano, the choir, again, "hammers" the listener,- at least to me, they seem to also sing "piano", but it comes with an amplified sound, which I attribute to poor miking. Often, the timpani sound unduly muffed. And so on.
I value clarity very much, especially in a work with such a complex counterpoint. But in this CD, the distorted sound and bad recording quality seriously impair that. To make matters worse, Giulini chose to use only the organ as continuo, which can be problematic: as Minkowski noted, the harpsichord sometimes can greatly clarify the counterpoint. So, the use of the organ in a poorly recorded CD makes it complicated to properly find the voices.
The dynamics are also impaired by the recording. Since the mikes were so terribly employed, you don't get to listen to the actual dynamics Giulini used, which might have been good. However, as it is, the volume varies chaotically.
Finally the tempi are another hindrance. Giulini's pace for this recording is the slowest I know - it is even slower than Celibidache's live recording for EMI!
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