Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Bach - Mass in B minor (1998) - Herreweghe

Rating: 5/5

Quite magnificent

I think this is a truly lovely performance of the B minor Mass.  There are many great recordings and for me, this stands with the best of them.

The music itself is sublime, of course.  This has been called the greatest artistic statement of any age and that's a defensible view.  Herreweghe really gets this, I think.  He takes things at measured tempi which never drag, but really give the music the spirituality and intellectual weight it deserves.  Bach's essential pulse and dancing rhythms are always there, though; the Christe eleison, for example, conveys both a serious expression of faith and a lovely dancing joy.  The depth, thought and richness of sound which Herreweghe brings here makes the whole thing a complete delight for me.  It may sound less sparklingly brilliant in places than, say, Gardiner (whose interpretation I also love) but it has a core of beauty and musicality which is profoundly involving, and Bach's deep spirituality is always present.

The recorded sound is excellent, the soloists are quite magnificent (as you'd expect from a cast including people like Veronique Gens, Andreas Scholl and Peter Kooy) and it's a great recording all round.  Very, very warmly recommended.

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