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Bach: Lutheran Masses Vol.1
Peter Harvey, Catherine Latham, Mark Padmore
Bach: Lutheran Masses Vol.1
Genre: Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #1

In 1979 it was inconceivable; even in 1989 it seemed radical if not ridiculous. By 1999, however, performing Bach's choral music with one singer and player per part had started to catch on. Around 1982 Joshua Rifkin firs...  more »

     
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CD Details

All Artists: Peter Harvey, Catherine Latham, Mark Padmore, Jane Rogers, Stephen Preston, The Purcell Quartet, Sinéad Bradbeer
Title: Bach: Lutheran Masses Vol.1
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Chandos
Release Date: 6/22/1999
Genre: Classical
Styles: Opera & Classical Vocal, Historical Periods, Baroque (c.1600-1750)
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 095115064221

Synopsis

Amazon.com
In 1979 it was inconceivable; even in 1989 it seemed radical if not ridiculous. By 1999, however, performing Bach's choral music with one singer and player per part had started to catch on. Around 1982 Joshua Rifkin first argued that Bach composed most of his sacred music for an ensemble of soloists; when Rifkin recorded the Mass in B Minor that way, he had few defenders and many outraged detractors. Gradually other Baroque specialists such as Andrew Parrott and Jeffrey Thomas tried this approach; now the (augmented) Purcell Quartet presents Bach's four brief "Lutheran" Masses with top-notch soloists--Volume 1 is not only a sterling example of one-on-a-part Bach, it's an outstanding performance, period. The singers blend beautifully with the early instruments, Susan Gritton (the only mainstream opera singer of the bunch) in particular keeping her vibrato well under control. Once you hear, say, the Kyrie of the G Minor Mass, in which each singer in turn takes up the winding fugue subject from the first oboe, or the A Major Mass, in which the flutes take up a fugue subject from the singers and (for once) are audible, a choral performance of these pieces may seem odd. --Matthew Westphal
 

CD Reviews

A milestone
hcf | 02/08/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"As a rare one-voice-per-part recording (OVPP), this is a milestone in the history of Bach performances. The close recorded sound will not be to everyone's liking (BBC Music certainly didn't appreciate this aspect of the recording), but as Matthew Westphal's glowing review suggests, not everybody will find it objectionable either. I greatly respect Westphal's insightful comments, so when a friend forwarded me Westphal's e-mail suggesting other OVPP recordings of Bach, I went out and bought most of them. The comparison gave me a new perspective on this recording. I had bought this recording for the soloists, without knowing anything about the raging OVPP debate (both Gramophone and BBC Music have recently featured vigorous exchanges on the subject). In fact, my first response to this recording was incredulity. I had heard OVPP performances of Renaissance masses and Venetian vespers, but I had no idea that this approach could also work in Bach. Now, having heard a number of OVPP interpretations of Bach, and having read the arguments in favor of the approach, I am a convert. As this recording demonstrates, performing Bach with solo voices reveals hidden structural nuances and adds a more intimate dimension to the genius of the score. It also lets you enjoy the beautiful vocal timbres of the individual soloists, if you're into that sort of thing. In that regard, this recording presents four voices about as beautiful as they get! Their impressive vocal contributions, coupled with delightful instrumental playing, make this recording a compelling testament to the merits of the OVPP approach. gkolomietz@yahoo.com"
Outstanding Performance
R. Gerard | Pennsylvania USA | 04/02/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The One Voice Per Part theory of Joshua Rifkin. The minimalist "Essential Bach 'Choir'" by Andrew Parrot. It looks like hell on paper. A terrible proposition. A seeming disregard for Bach's intentions (which Parrott disproves in his book on the subject). But does the same hold true when it is actually put in practice?In my opinion, it does not. Since this "revolution" in the way we perform Bach's concerted choral works production of exceedingly beautiful records using Rifkin's theory have prooven that the sound of the smallest possible ensemble (the size Bach likely had to his availability during his lifetime) is not only aesthetically positive, but essential. Essential in that each voice (both vocal and instrumental) is heard.This recording of the Lutheran Masses only confirms the ever growing favor of OVPP recordings. It boasts top rate soloists as well a clearly virtuosic group of instrumentalists.These are meticulous performances. The 16th note violin runs in the Gloria of the g-minor mass are effortless. OVPP allows also for more quick tempi which makes for a more gripping listening experience. The singers are all first rate."
No question! This is the one!
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 02/01/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"OVPP (one voice per part) is no longer a rare performance option; this recording in two volumes of Bach's four Lutheran masses demonstrates why: you can hear the parts! and you can hear the instrumental lines! and the voices sound like human voices! Intonation is sharper (assuming the singers are good enough) and rhythms are more incisive. Scholarship does show that OVPP was more the norm in Bach's musical milieu than large choirs, but that's a musicologist's problem. My judgement is based purely on listening.

I'm very fond of the Philippe Herreweghe performance of these masses, for a number of reasons. Herreweghe's chorus is amazingly tight and expressive, and the big sound he coaxes from them is surely impressive. His performance has been re-released as part of a 4-CD box, which I've recently reviewed. However...

... this performance by the Purcell Quartet (masquerading as a chamber orchestra), with three very fine "early music" singers and one operatic soprano who knows how to sing in such an ensemble, is a good deal more exciting. I suspect that it will be too exciting, too upbeat, for listeners who want their Bach to sound like the choir they heard in church when they were children. This is not a solemn, pious performance of Bach. It's a Revelation, though... a revelation of how Italianate Bach's music was, even in these small Latin masses for Lutheran services on certain holidays.

Fortunately there are samples available here on amazon. Plug in your best headphones and listen! I'll bet you'll wind up buying."