Mass in F major BWV 233
Kyrie eleison - Christe, du Lamm Gottes in F major BWV
Mass in A major BWV 234
Donna Brown, Christine
Ingeborg Danz, alto
James Taylor, tenor
Thomas Quasthoff, Wolfgang Schöne, basses
Mass in G minor BWV 235
Mass in G major BWV 236
Sanctus in C major BWV 237
Sanctus in D major BWV 238
Sanctus in G major BWV240
Sanctus in D major BWV 241
Christe eleison in G minor BWV 242
Credo in unum Deum BWV 1081
Ruth Ziesak, sopranos
Ingeborg Danz, Brigit Remmert, alto
Christoph Prégardien, tenor
Michel Brodard, Thomas Quasthoff, basses
Liszt Chamber Orchestra, Budapest (BWV233)
Gächinger Kantorei · Bach-Collegium Stuttgart(except BWV233,
directed by Helmuth Rilling
Full Libretto and Notes in Latin, English,
German, French and Spanish
One must remember the days in which Bach lived - strife between
the various factions of the church. Bach himself was a Lutheran
Protestant. But Latin is the language of the Roman Catholic Church.
So whither all these Sacred works in latin for the Catholic Church?
Or were they?
to these questions will undoubtedly raise many others. Endless essays
have been written by musicologists and historians about how the
political climate during Bach's time was strongly woven within the
factions. We also do know that Bach was in the service of the courts
and it was not unknown that Bach did at various times use his music
to procure favours and to better his employment prospects.
Bach was thoroughly familiar with the Latin language as formal education,
religion and music training went hand in hand at those times; and
one should understand that the original meaning of "Catholic" as
equals to "Universal". Hence it is a long shot to think that Bach's
writing in Latin had anything to do with denominational concerns.
In fact, one can conclude that the obligation to retain the original
wordings, the belief in a single universal church - were far stronger
motivations for Bach.
Latin music output comprises - in entirety - his Mass in B minor
BWV 232, two versions of his Magnificat
BWV 243 & 243a and festive music Gloria in excelsis Deo BWV
191. All others are included in these two albums. Hence, this pair
makes a good research companion for anyone intent on collecting
or studying Bach's entire Latin output. Comprehensive notes are
main issue surrounds the music of Volume 1 & 2. They are essentially
'parody' music. What this means is that a lot of the music you hear
here can be found in other works with alternate BWV numbers.
is common knowledge that Baroque musicians copy from themselves.
They recycle pieces, reset them to different instruments or words;
or else they add some ornamentation and combine various movements
to make a 'new' work. How could the great Bach be guilty of self-plagerism?
The leading music scholars of the day think this less an issue of
limited creative powers. Obtusely, they consider this constant reworking
a way of refining one's immense creative output into 'summation
statements' of sorts - an emblem of only the best thinkers in the
trade of composition.
one ignores this knowledge, one realises that not one measure of
this music betrays the character of parody, instead each work has
become a stronger work than the original. If one needs to know -
Bach's greatest works, the Mass in B minor and Christmas Oratorio
are also well known 'parodies'. Volume 1 differs from Volume 2 in
that most of the source materials are generally less known than
the familar tunes of Volume 2. Nonetheless, deeper textural essence
await patient listeners in both discs.
Rilling's handling of these rare works has his characteristic high
performance standards. Listening to the Gloria in excelsis Deo
(Vol.1 Track 2), one can sample the amount of virtuosic writing.
This is remininescent of the best of Bach virtuosity - like his
only this is scored for voice - and at it the --Gächinger Kantorei
Stuttgart sings with amazing vocal dexterity!
also to how Rilling (right) draws the close to the Kyrie eleison
BWV 233a (Vol.1 Track 7) - the individual choral parts just wind
into the concluding cadence in good graceful timing - nothing short
of perfection! The Mass in G Minor BWV 235 (Vol.2) is filled with
some of the most beautiful choruses I have ever heard. There is
some roughness in the Kyrie eleison (Vol.2 Track 1) but it
does little to stop this locomotive of sustained greatness.
mention must be given to the oboe solo in Vol.2 Track 5 and the
violin soloists in Vol.1 Track 5 & 10 respectively, who give us
a Bachian touch associated with only the very best Bach instrumentalists.
vocal soloists are of very good quality as well - Wolfgang Schöne
deserves particular mention for his warm and succulent bass voice
(Vol.1 Track 3). Further, Christine Schäfer's magical soprano voice
is simply great beyond description. Ingeborg Danz is superb as the
alto soloist throughout both CDs. She also sings a very beautiful
duet with the equally superb Ruth Ziesak in Vol.2 Track 10 Dominus
Deus, a style not dissimilar with the Christus eleison
duet in the B minor mass. Here they blend perfectly. Not so in the
short Christe eleison (Vol.2 Track 17) where Ingeborg Danz
can be heard to change her register abruptly.
the Gloria in excelsis Deo of Mass in A major (Vol.1 Track
9), I was surprised by Bach's treatment of the solo voice in relation
to the chorus - very rarely have I heard such an almost operatic
treatment from Bach (except perhaps in his Secular Cantatas) The
effect is sweetly 'new' and one should hear how Bach does it.
This is indeed track after track of great music! Hear also the Cum
sancto spiritu (Vol.1 Track 13) - such inspired virtuosity -
impossible to believe but true. To top it off, there is a collection
of four different settings of the Sanctus, entirely different
music set to the same words, which the interested can make comparisons
into their music conception and structure - it actually leaves me
gaping with amazement.
is surprising that these works should have received so little attention.
I would not hesitate to recommend that all Bach lovers get a copy
of these works. They are essentials to your collection!! They have
that finesse of composition which I associate with the best of Bach
works and they have been too long snubbed for their 'dubious' origins
as parody works. But in truth, these are all such superb masterpieces
- the ones which display Bach's creative powers at his most inspired!
Indeed you will do yourself a disservice to ignore this powerful
collection bringing them together as a consistent set of works only
serves to strengthen the inherent power of the individual parts.
If one is looking for a positive argument for parody - one does
not need to look elsewhere - simply sustained greatness in this
Yeuk Fan takes a bow to Bach's greatness. Really, I am impressed,
If you wish to
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15.2.2000 © Ng Yeuk Fan
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