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Mass in B Minor
J.S. Bach, Fassbaender, Donath
Mass in B Minor
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (15) - Disc #2

For Bach lovers who never have gotten comfortable with the sound of period instruments--or youngsters who want to check out how Bach was performed before the likes of Harnoncourt and Hogwood changed everything --this is...  more »


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All Artists: J.S. Bach, Fassbaender, Donath, Jochum, Brso
Title: Mass in B Minor
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: EMI Classics
Release Date: 6/18/1996
Genre: Classical
Styles: Opera & Classical Vocal, Historical Periods, Baroque (c.1600-1750)
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPCs: 724356864023, 724356864054

For Bach lovers who never have gotten comfortable with the sound of period instruments--or youngsters who want to check out how Bach was performed before the likes of Harnoncourt and Hogwood changed everything --this is as good a "conventional" 20th-century-style B-Minor Mass as you will find. Eugen Jochum packs the performance with dramatic gestures and grandeur: his mighty opening "Kyrie" hits you right in the gut; very slow tempos give the "Et incarnatus" and "Crucifixus" an imposing solemnity; the sudden hush at the start of "Et exspecto" and huge four-beat crescendo moments later are remarkable. The orchestra plays gracefully and with particularly good balance for a symphony orchestra doing Bach; the choir's blend and clarity are not ideal, but their sound is powerful and Jochum makes sure that the important lines are heard. Soprano Helen Donath sings blandly, with a vibrato so quick and wide she can only approximate pitch, but the male soloists, especially tenor Claes H. Ahnsjö, sound quite comfortable with Bach's writing. Mezzo-soprano Brigitte Fassbaender's voice seems more suited to Mahler, but she proves herself yet again a great artist. Any performance-practice purists who have strayed here accidentally should flee immediately to Herreweghe (if not Rifkin), but those who love the grand, old German tradition of Bach performance should be very pleased with this one. --Matthew Westphal

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CD Reviews

Jochum reaches the sky once more
Miguel Ferro | Portugal | 04/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Jochum is the best "spiritual" conductor i know. This Bach's Mass is no exception: the fluid and ethereal sonority of the music as well as the strenght of the choir makes this Mass version one of the best."
I love this performance
Gregory M. Zinkl | Chicago, IL | 01/30/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I could blather on like I usually do about the glorious playing of the Dresden forces and Jochum's terrific, inspired performance. But I won't! I love this recording, warts and all. The overall emotional thrust is terrific, and even if the tempi are slower than the period crowd would vote for, they are never lugubriously heavy. An enjoyable performance that my partner and I have enjoyed many times.And it's a bargain!"
Solemn, but solid
Joshua F. Fisher | Coralville, IA USA | 05/12/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Eugen Jochum here finds a way to take the music at a slow pace to give it the solemnity that a sacred work of this magnitude demands, yet still capture the varying moods of the piece. The powerful, heavily fugal "Gloria in excelsis Deo" slides easily into the (appropriately) gentle "Et in terra pax." Even more wonderful is the way Jochum builds up the chorales to spectacular climaxes, most notably in the "Gratias agimus tibi" and the aforementioned "Et in terra pax."In this endeavor, he is aided by the chorus, which functions as a team, as a single unit, rather than as sections of sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses pitted against one another in a chaotic survival of the fittest (or loudest). This approach can sometimes tend to obscure the words and blur the textures, but for the sake of drama, a singularity of purpose is absolutely essential.The weakness of the recording is undoubtedly the soloists. No one would argue that this is Helen Donath's best recording, and Brigitte Fassbaender struggles to restrain her dark, powerful, Mahlerian voice. She and Donath seem to cancel each other out in their two duets. Robert Holl's bass tends to be stuck way down in the basement, and his singing is rather uninspired at times.The solo movements are saved, however, by some wonderful solo instrumental playing, most notably that by the solo violin in the "Laudamus te." The ultimate saving grace for this recording, however, is the wonderful direction of Jochum, who keeps the music serious, but interesting."