Bach in Pennsylvania
T. Beers | Arlington, Virginia United States | 11/15/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Bethlehem, Pennsylvania Bach Choir has been performing Bach in the Lehigh valley for over a hundred years: they gave the American premieres of both the B-minor Mass (1900) and the Christmas Oratorio (1901). Fans of the great H.L. Mencken know he never missed the annual Bethlehem performance of the B-minor Mass back in the '20s! Doubtless, those old performances would sound perfectly dreadful to modern ears accustomed to recent discoveries in baroque performance practice ("auffuehrungspraxis," as the Germans say). But, on the evidence of its Dorian recordings, the Bethlehemers have gone pretty far absorbing modern scholarship. True, the choir is quite large and, if you are a minimalist, "period instruments" fanatic, this performance of the B-minor Mass might not appeal on those grounds. But for everyone else, Funfgeld's beautifully realized, lively yet sensitive performance, expertly recorded by Dorian, should sound just right. The prevailing style is light, with beautifully transparent projection of Bach's wonderful polyphony. Most important, Funfgeld and his performers are very attentive to the meaning of the texts. Mencken might be astonished to know that his favorite Pennsylvanians are still going strong performing Bach 100 years on, but the rest of us need only rejoice that this marvelous American institution is alive and well."
Them's some tight cats!
Dave Kanzeg | Strongsville, Ohio USA | 11/10/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As a jazz friend of mine said after I played the "Cum Sancto Spiritu" on this record for him, "you can tell that these cats REALLY have their(...)together." I took that to be high praise for a large chorus that is tight, tight, tight, but never overwhelms. The pacing also feels just about right, except for a too-fast "Sanctus." But everybody seems to do the "Sanctus" too fast, so what else is new?!"