GMG Classical Music Forum

The Music Room => Great Recordings and Reviews => Topic started by: tomseeley on April 08, 2007, 09:09:41 AM

Title: Bach B Minor Mass on EMI Classics
Post by: tomseeley on April 08, 2007, 09:09:41 AM
I heard snatches recently from a Bach B Minor Mass supposedly originally issued on EMI Classics, which I thought was extraordinarily good! But it was embedded in one of those inane "100 Best Bach" boxed sets I was merely browsing via audio at a local Borders one day, while killing time waiting for my truck to get fixed!  So unless I bought the whole boxed set (which I wasn't about to do), I couldn't tear it open and find out which of the many EMI recordings of that piece it might be from.

The one I heard was obviously a small group of singers (my preferred style for this work in any case).  Wonderful clarity of individual parts yet very good blend, balance, diction, etc.  All in all, a wonderful performance of what little there was in that box.

Anyone have any specific knowledge of specific recordings of this piece on EMI Classics? 
Title: Re: Bach B Minor Mass on EMI Classics
Post by: Que on April 08, 2007, 09:23:03 AM
It's (probably) the Herreweghe on Virgin (same company as EMI):

(http://www.emiclassics.com/pack_image.php?icpn=0094637285626&size=190)

Compare for yourself (the "Agnus Dei" for alto is a clear example)

http://www.emiclassics.com/releasetracklisting.php?rid=12196 (http://www.emiclassics.com/releasetracklisting.php?rid=12196)
http://www.emiclassics.com/releasetracklisting.php?rid=12139 (http://www.emiclassics.com/releasetracklisting.php?rid=12139)

Q
Title: Re: Bach B Minor Mass on EMI Classics
Post by: knight66 on April 08, 2007, 09:27:14 AM
I am having a think about this....I would have guessed several recordings, but you stipulate small forces and that rules out a number I would have suggested.

I may well be off beam here, Virgin are owned by EMI and I am not sure whether they ever grab Virgin recordings for bargain boxes, but this version fits the bill and I know has been included in a box set of all the major Bach choral works.
(http://ec2.images-amazon.com/images/P/B00005RFSB.01._SCLZZZZZZZ)

It is a good version, plenty of colour and energy.

The following is a famous older EMI version, it has been endlessly repackaged, it is excellent in many ways, but it is not small in scale...

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/P/B000002SCY.02._SCLZZZZZZZ)

The following cannot be the version you heard, but I do love it. In its time it was revolutionary in that Rifkin, the conductor, made this case for it to be sung one to a part, so the scale of it is tiny in contrast to Klemperer. It is cheap, as are all those I have suggested so far. But it is not EMI.

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/P/B000027ETC.02._SCLZZZZZZZ_SS500_.jpg)

Perhaps someone else can suggest a version I have not thought of that could be your version.

Mike
Title: Re: Bach B Minor Mass on EMI Classics
Post by: karlhenning on April 09, 2007, 03:39:33 AM
I've got that Jochum (with, as you indicate, Mike, different cover art) . . . and I need to dig into it more.
Title: Re: Bach B Minor Mass on EMI Classics
Post by: dsch on April 09, 2007, 04:57:10 AM
I guess that Jochum recording is slow, right?

Another recording:
(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/P/B00002DDVC.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_AA240_.jpg)

with Karajan and take a look a the performer list:

• Kathleen Ferrier (Alto)
• Nicolai Gedda (Tenor)
• Marga Höffgen (Alto)
• Heinz Rehfuss (Baritone)
• Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Soprano)

• Philharmonia Orchestra
• Society of Friends of Music Chorus
• Vienna Friends of Music Society
• Vienna Symphony Orchestra

not bad if you like old recordings and legendary singers! ;)
Title: Re: Bach B Minor Mass on EMI Classics
Post by: knight66 on April 09, 2007, 06:26:56 AM
Things are not quite what they seem with the old Karajan set....but that is not to suggest it is other than superb.

Ferrier and Schwartzkopf appear only in bonus tracks singing solos and duets from the B Minor Mass. The recordings were made during rehearsals for a performance and there is some feet shuffling, despite which, you will hear some of the best and most concentrated Bach singing ever preserved.

The full recording has slightly less exalted soloists. However, there are plenty of rewards. In particular the pacing is much more like the authentic kind of speeds we are now used to now, as against the classic Klemperer speeds. Although the choir and orchestra are full bodied, the rhythms are sprung, the singers in particular are superb and the lines in the choruses are clearly articulated and very musically prepared, there is none of the Bass wallowing or yelling that some large choirs can produce.

It is a thoroughly recommendable pair of discs.

Mike
Title: Re: Bach B Minor Mass on EMI Classics
Post by: knight66 on April 09, 2007, 10:25:55 PM
Here is another connection to the old site with reviews of quite a few recorded performances...

http://www.good-music-guide.com/forum/index.php/topic,5637.0.html

Mike
Title: Re: Bach B Minor Mass on EMI Classics
Post by: Maciek on April 11, 2007, 07:32:43 AM
I have that Karajan/Ferrier/Schwarzkopf set and I'd say it's worth buying mostly for the snatches by those 2 singers - absolutely lovely! I also have the Gardiner recording (in the DG/Arkiv set) but Gardiner's Bach just doesn't work for me (especially the solo singing). I have a hunch Richter would be perfect for my tastes (I like my Bach romantic ;)), so I think I'll need to get his DG/Arkiv set too. ;D One day.
Title: Re: Bach B Minor Mass on EMI Classics
Post by: maswot on April 12, 2007, 06:32:09 AM
A second vote for the Herreweghe, although his second recording (1998) is even better than the 1989 recording.
Title: Re: Bach B Minor Mass on EMI Classics
Post by: karlhenning on April 12, 2007, 06:39:48 AM
. . . I also have the Gardiner recording (in the DG/Arkiv set) but Gardiner's Bach just doesn't work for me (especially the solo singing).

FWIW, it just didn't work for one of the professors whom I assisted at Buffalo, either.
Title: Re: Bach B Minor Mass on EMI Classics
Post by: Maciek on April 12, 2007, 08:41:12 AM
It's a strange thing. Because I can hear that it is very good... But somehow I just can't get involved... ??? Plus for some reason the singing seems sort of artificial to me (lots of changes in dynamics and the phrases seem cut up, very short...?). Judging by other Richter stuff that I've heard I'm simply very old-fashioned in my Bach tastes (if you can call HIP performances "modern", that is ;)). But then, I do like McCreesh (I have the Easter Oratorio)...
Title: Re: Bach B Minor Mass on EMI Classics
Post by: Novi on April 12, 2007, 09:51:52 AM
I have a hunch Richter would be perfect for my tastes (I like my Bach romantic ;)), so I think I'll need to get his DG/Arkiv set too. ;D One day.

MrOsa, I've had my eye on that one for a while too. The Richter box with all the Bach biggies was available for around 25 quid for ages but I never got around to getting it and I'd always meant to. Now, it's double the price :(.

If you like 'old-fashioned' Bach, you might want to have a listen to the Enescu recording. Slower, intense, and lots of vibrato from Ferrier, Pears and co :).
Title: Re: Bach B Minor Mass on EMI Classics
Post by: Maciek on April 12, 2007, 11:02:55 AM
Thanks for the rec. I'll definitely seek that one out. Anything with Ferrier is good for me. :D
Title: Re: Bach B Minor Mass on EMI Classics
Post by: knight66 on April 12, 2007, 11:25:10 AM
The Richter recordings I have I do love and his B minor Mass is first rate. I have also a DVD of him conducting it, but oddly some of the sound is out of step with the visuals...however, it is intermittent and the solo singing is first rate along with the choral singing.

I agree re the earlier Gardiner, I have always maintained they are well drilled and skate over the surface of the works. This contrasts with his new cantata series which seems very flesh and blood and absorbing in all the right ways.

Mike