bigmikedc | Sugar Hill, GA United States | 01/27/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First, let me say that I can tell you without even having yet analyzed the CD for you that this is definitely a must buy version of Bach's Mass in B Minor. You dont need to read the rest of the words that I mention after this. Still not convinced? Very well. I should also mention that this is a 1991 Grammy Award winning version that is very much deserving of that and any other accolades it might have received. You see, what makes this version of one of Bach's most famous works is that it is in every way full of emotion from the opening Kyrie all the way to the final Dona Nobis Pacem. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus shine magnificently throughout this recording and they never let up or for that matter appear to be exausted by the cannons and counter cannons produced throughout. What about the soloists? The ladies are at no point lacking in the power or accuracy department as they constantly put all of their experience to the task of making this worth it's salt. The men also are dauntless in their performance as well as the powerful tenor Blochwitz, baritone Shimell, and bass Howell imput emotion into this piece as if they were performing with the composer himself. In the end that is what makes this recording such a joy to listen to. The emotion that is conveyed. While many a recording of this music might be accurate down to the note it does not take a musicologist to note whether or not a piece is mechanical in its sound or whether it is seemingly from the heart. All of us as music lovers can tell this for ourselves. Sir Georg Solti is at his best with this beautiful recording and when listening to it we must be in awe of it's representation."
A fun album
pyramidcvv | Western US | 06/07/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I like this album but it took me a bit of getting used to. I guess I'm more used to the more solemn ("slower") renditions like Jochum and Rilling (the first one). The second Kyrie never goes above piannissimo until the very end: weird! All the choral coloratura is done in extreme staccato, which made me laugh when I first heard it. The Credo and Patrem Omnipotentem are done at breakneck speed: awesome singing, but way too fast for my taste. Also, the Credo uses heavy accents which I think are overdone. The trumpets and the timpani are really loud, too. Total time is about 112 minutes, so things really move in this album."
Solid and Persuasive Bach
Music Is Everything | Colorado Springs, CO USA | 07/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I always enjoy reading the reviews from the historical instrument purists; they rail against modern instrument performances, and will grasp at anything to do so. I listen to both old and new instruments and think life is better that way, and I choose not to be overly harsh in any review but simply speak my mind ...
... which is why I happen to like this recording very much. The playing is consistently good, with some excellent solos from the orchestra (especially Dale Clevenger on horn). The Chicago Symphony is wonderfully polished and clear, with the London-leaning precision that Solti liked in this kind of music. The vocal soloists are all fine, with the two sopranos transcending into the sublime. And the recording and mastering are strikingly clear and vibrant.
So why the harsh reviews? I think it has more to do with the huge number of recordings out there with vastly different interpretations. It becomes easy to think that one particular performance is "the way it's supposed to be." But Baroque composers, including Bach, were notoriously vague about performance practice, often writing entire pieces with no dynamics, articulations, or tempo indications. To get a real grasp of a work, you have to experience many different interpretations and, if possible, perform it yourself.
So, after hearing dozens of performances of this work and performing it myself several times, I can say without reservation that this is a fine performance and a strong interpretation. Solti's tempos, though a bit on the slow side compared to some recordings, emphasize the weight of Bach's scoring and are probably truer to the slower tempos common in the overly-live churches Bach worked in.
So do yourself a favor: Enjoy this performance, and if you really love the B Minor Mass, pick up some other interpretations. You'll be glad to have kept an open mind."
Not bad, but you can do better
Johannes Climacus | Beverly, Massachusetts | 02/26/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Solti gave us some outstanding recordings of choral repertoire toward the end of his life; I'm particularly fond of his *Messiah* and *St Matthew Passion*. This *B-Minor Mass* is not quite in the same league as Klemperer, Richter or Jochum (among modern-instrument versions), but has a number of virtues including a better-than-average solo team (Shimell and Lott are particularly effective), Margaret Hillis's magnificent Chicago Symphony Chorus, and some gorgeous obbligato playing, particularly from the winds. Solti's interpretation is peculiar in places, compelling in others. The penitential sections are a bit self-consciously reverential under Solti's direction, and in several of the more exuberant choruses he favors a détaché style of articulation which sound bizarre (and must have been quite difficult to sing at Solti's generally upbeat tempos).
I enjoyed this recording, despite its flaws. The sonics are excellent--very much like being there. In the end, however, I don't think Solti's interpretation does full justice to Bach's transcendent masterpiece, despite the fact that it was awarded a Grammy. If it were reissued at budget price, it could be more warmly recommended; otherwise, I'd opt for one of the above-mentioned recordings (Richter's studio version is, alas, currently unavailable) or, better yet, one of the leading period-performance practice versions (Gardiner remains my top choice in that category)."