Yet this does not mean that Bach could never have heard his … Personal preferences aside, it's a fascinating alternative to standard versions, draws you in to infer the missing power and focuses attention to previously overlooked details – and after all, lacking any definitive proof, who's to say what Bach intended? Ferrier (1912 - 1953) lavishes her celebrated natural warmth on her five solo sections, highlighted by an especially heartfelt "Agnus dei." Even so, the earliest recordings were imbued with the bloated ideals of the 19th century in which the artists had been trained. The first complete rendition, albeit of separate sections spread out over several years, is thought to have begun in 1811 by the Berlin Singakademie. (Thus, Rifkin adds a second alto for the Sanctus, and expands to a total of eight singers for the double "choir" needed for the Osanna and to conclude the work with a climactic Dona nobis pacem.) Many commentators attempt to reconcile the seeming conflict between Catholic and Lutheran liturgies by viewing the B Minor Mass as Bach's sincere ecumenical attempt to unite the two primary religious traditions of his era. Basing his performances on a newly-edited 1954 edition, he asserted in accompanying notes that “Bach was used to an equal numerical and auditory balance between singers and instrumentalists,” and thus scaled the size of the chorus “where a choral sound might obscure an instrumental detail” and assigned soloists in lieu of the chorus to sections of choral movements in which instruments do not double the voices. Throughout, the sheer beauty of the music constantly emerges from within, projecting a compelling aura of natural humility and heartfelt devotion. All rights reserved. A new Bach B minor Mass has got me very excited this week. While I consider the above recordings of the Mass in B Minor to have the greatest claim to historical significance, there are dozens of others, many of which have been widely acclaimed. The first integral performance only arose in 1859 in Leipzig by a chorus of over 100, adapted to the taste of the time, complete with dramatic dynamics and legato slurs. Despite scholarly misgiving over its integral nature, modern performances and recordings all present the entire work. The first documented performance of any portion of the B Minor Mass was by the composer's son C.P.E. A wonderful question which, I’d argue, admits of no single answer. Harnoncourt quips that this approach was "Bach clothed in Beethoven. Even so, recorded in 7 sessions over 10 weeks in London to accommodate the soloists' schedules, it's surprisingly fine and needs no apologies for its sincere, if "old-fashioned," respectful approach. On this edition of Baroque&Before, Ivor Bolton leads Balthasar Neumann Chorus and B’Rock Orchestra in Bach’s masterwork. Overall, he considered the new recording as "about midway between the ceremonial grandeur of the old Coates effort on HMV, with its overwhelming means, and the ascetic rigors of the Robert Shaw on RCA, with its rather paltry ones." His fleet, broadly phrased, urgent, and dramatic account of the final chorus of the 'Gloria' provides an important, invaluable, and tantalizing hint of what the true Mendelssohnian Bach style must have been like."). Bach had added many emendations to the original score, the authenticity of which have posed a challenge to later historians. Scholars agree that at most one or two sections were freshly composed, with all the rest adapted from earlier cantata movements. Ecstatically greeting it in the December 1929 Gramophone magazine, C. M. Crabtree agreed: "For many people the recording of Bach's B minor Mass complete will be the greatest thing that has happened since the first gramophone record was made. Amen (so to speak)! Even if it had no other merit, the sheer daring of this bold British venture would assure it an honored place in the history of the phonograph – a full recording of a two-hour, barely-known work of highly select appeal. There is a theory that he never expected the work to be performed in its entirety, and certainly at nearly two hours in length it would never have been part of a church liturgy. In fairness, Rifkin notes that C.P.E. George Stauffer points out that, by whatever name, the B Minor Mass is not mentioned in any of Bach's letters nor in any other contemporaneous documents, and so our only direct evidence of its creation must lie in the autograph itself. While the sincerity and commitment of the leaders of earlier versions cannot be discounted, Richter had extraordinary credentials as a Bach specialist – son of a minister, organist at the same Thomaskirche in Leipzig where Bach himself had presided during his final 27 years (including the period of composing the Mass) and where he is buried, and founder of the famed Munich Bach Choir, heard here in all its radiant splendor. Butt asserts that it was fully appropriate for Bach to pour into his Mass an exhaustive summation of his vast musical skills and of all the styles, idioms and devices available in his age. In that regard, the B Minor Mass was consistent with Luther's underlying theology, since, as Philipp Spitta put it, Luther was not a foe of Catholicism but a development grown from the same soil. It was never intended to be performed as a whole within the liturgy, and its various movements date from different periods of Bach’s life. Kyrie Gloria. Just as Bach culled his B Minor Mass from disparate sources, Herbert von Karajan's 1952-53 recording stemmed from choral sessions in Vienna, with the vocal solos and duets taped later in London. Sections that were specifically composed to complete the Mass in the late 1740s include the "Et incarnatus est" part of the Credo. The Missa portion appeared in 1833, and the rest in 1845, followed by an "official" edition in 1856 by the newly-formed Bach Gesellschaft. Robert Shaw; Anne McKnight, June Gardner, Lydia Summers, Lucius Metz, Paul Matthen; RCA Victor Chorale and Orchestra (1947, RCA Victor LPs, 122’ [119’ + an extra 3’ for the omitted repeat of the Osanna]), Robert Shaw; Saramae Endich, Adele Addison, Florence Kopleff, Mallory Walker, Ara Berberian; Robert Shaw Chorale and Orchestra (1960, RCA LPs and CDs, 133’). These concertists could be doubled by additional singers ("ripienists") for fully-scored passages to amplify the vocal texture, but the ripienists were purely optional, dependent upon available resources. The B Minor Mass included Harnoncourt's own lengthy, scholarly notes in which he both explained and defended his approach. You'd never know from listening; there's remarkable consistency to the … Malcolm Boyd concludes: "No other work more convincingly demonstrates that at the highest level Bach's process of parody, adaptation and compilation must be accepted as a creative act almost on a par with what we normally think of as 'original composition'." For Bach, it's a splendid choice, because - again to my knowledge - it's unique, even without a composer, no other mass in B minor. Although often cited as quirky or worse (a 1955 British Record Guide slams it as "a woeful disappointment," "capriciously conceived" and "simply unmusical"), Scherchen's highly individual account is a remarkably fresh approach that eschews ostentation and constantly resonates with sincere artistry that compels appreciation for the magnitude of Bach's achievement. In his accompanying notes, Wolff disputes Rifkin’s unvarying use of solos throughout, noting that the Dresden parts of the Missa that Bach prepared had “solo” written on top of only certain movements, which he considers a deliberate distinction from the others, in which larger forces must have been intended. Among the slowest on record, and thus patently at odds with more recent notions of brisk Baroque pacing (as well as Shaw's own earlier version), the patient unfolding of carefully layered lines, exquisite control and tender phrasing fend off any sense of tedium and instead create an aura of eternal mystery and conviction that assures a treasured place among traditional performances. The Mass of 1733 The length of the Mass in B minor precludes it being sung in its entirety in a church service. Records further show that the electoral chapel included only a single tenor. Copyright © 2002-20 Presto Classical Limited. No.17: Coro - Crucifixus (from the new recording), Bach - Cantata BWV 12, ’Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen’, No.2: Coro - Weinen, Klagen... (from BISCD791), rolyn Sampson (soprano I), Rachel Nicholls (soprano II), Robin Blaze (alto), Gerd Türk (tenor) & Peter Kooij (bass), Bach Collegium Japan, Masaaki Suzuki, Available Formats: 2 SACDs, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC. Scores – Among its immense trove of free public domain scores, the Petrucci Music Library (http://imslp.org/wiki/Main_Page) has a nearly complete scan of Bach's autograph of the. Everything about it is large, the music, the voices, the scope of conception, the dynamics, use … At the other, Butt traces the influence of dance in the regularity, recurrence, symmetry, periodic phrasing and metric organization that permeates several sections. Bach - Mass in B Minor | John Eliot Gardiner (2015) - YouTube Among the ones I have enjoyed through the years are: I am indebted to the following writers for the information and attributed opinions in this article: Spitta, Philipp (tr: Clare Bell and J. They had already released revelatory original instrument versions of the Bach Brandenburg Concertos, Orchestral Suites and Violin Concertos (the last with a reduced "orchestra" of seven strings and harpsichord continuo) and would soon launch their most ambitious venture (shared with the King's College Choir and like-minded Leonhardt Consort), a project of staggering scope and historical importance – recording all 200+ Bach cantatas (and including the complete scores in each album). Rifkin speculates that the solos may have been meant to display the talents of the Elector's chapel choir. A former Dean of Ripon wrote, ‘All that I believe about God I find in Bach’s B minor Mass.’ Although the Mass was written in separate sections over many years, there are, nevertheless, clear signs that the composer viewed it as a unified whole. The New Bach Edition (NBA) volume of J. S. Bach’s Mass in B minor BWV 232 has been the definitive edition for generations of singers and musicians. 19. That, in turn, was seen by Butt as the culmination of Bach's deeply-held belief that music was God-given and that its highest possible purpose was to serve as a vehicle for social harmony. Charles Sanford Terry notes that while it contains all the sections of the Catholic mass (and, indeed, it was listed in Bach's estate catalog as "die Grosse catholische Messe"), textual variations violate the inflexible strictures required for ritual purposes; on the other hand, Lutherans use only portions (the Kyrie, Gloria and occasionally the Sanctus) of the full Catholic mass in their services. The Boyd Neel Orchestra, founded by its namesake surgeon in 1933 as one of the earliest permanent chamber groups, provides eloquent, light textures (with imposing tympani) that must have seemed refreshingly pure at the time. As Teri Noel Towe aptly describes it, "a massive choir … sings with gusto and with surprising subtlety in the handful of choruses that were rather inexpertly recorded by a pioneer mobile recording team. As just a single example, consider the themes of the Kyrie movements – complex yet haunting, and endlessly fascinating in their evolutionary repetitions (as, indeed, a good fugue theme should be), offsetting the simpler, gentle theme of the Christe. Robert Shaw sidesteps the issue, stating that no matter when the fragments may have been composed, they comprise a textual and musical unity reflecting Bach's unwavering religious conviction and his staggering musical craftsmanship. Matching their timings, period instruments, enthusiastic articulation, clipped notes, minimal vibrato and light interwoven sonic planes, Gardiner steers a middle course between their stances on the proper numbers of choral singers. Overall, Gardiner melds historical credibility and tradition with creativity to help bridge the gap between the older, romanticized approach and a radical application of period practices that threatens to alienate those who should embrace this wondrous work, and thus paved the way to many excellent recordings that continue to proclaim Bach’s eternal relevance, even in our modern times. John Butt points out that it was customary to submit a major sacred work in support of such a petition, that the traditional mass text would have had more immediate appeal than that of a newly-written and unfamiliar cantata, and that the overall style of the Missa was generally consistent with the expectations in Dresden, including such features as moving from a minor key to the relative major, setting the Christe as a duet for two sopranos, using a horn to accompany the Quoniam aria and basing the Domine Deus on a Lombard rhythm. Bach's (1685 - 1750) `Mass in B Minor' is nearly 2 hours of what few would disagree is one of civilizations greatest masterpieces. Video on demand: Bach's Mass in B minor with the Ensemble Pygmalion Watch online on www.francemusique.fr Cité de la musique - La Philharmonie Recorded at Philharmonie 1: Grande salle Pierre Boulez, Paris, France Thus, in sending this Missa to the Elector with a letter dated July 27, 1733, Bach asked that the Elector "take me into your most mighty protection" and wrote that, despite serving as music director of Leipzig's two primary churches, "I have been made to suffer one injury or another, and on occasion a diminution of the fees connected with this office – all of which, however, would cease if Your Royal Highness would give me his favor and confer upon me a title in his court chapel," and promised "unending devotion … and to devote all my powers to your service." He acclaimed the solo work as "intrinsic rather than exhibitionist" and the overall result as "a glorification of Bach's musical inventiveness and the scope and variety of his ideas rather than an affirmation of liturgical devotion or solo skill." Philip Miller notes that the pristine condition of the portion sent to the Elector suggests that it was never used, and Rifkin notes that the second half of the autograph has errors that Bach would have corrected in preparing performing parts. Moreover, while Terry observes that some sections (especially the Credo and Confiteor) "exhale a Roman atmosphere," C. Hubert H. Parry notes that others evoke a far different spirit from Catholic composers, being conceived in the subjective, intimate mood of Bach's cantatas (from which, after all, many of its movements were derived), taking the words to heart and with a depth of earnestness that was essentially Teutonic. Completed in 1748, with individual parts composed and performed earlier. 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