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Today, every man and his dog has recorded the B minor Mass of Bach on original instruments, all sprucing absolute accuracy regarding "authentic interpretations". Of course, no one is old enough to authoritatively tell us how music was played and interpreted 300 years ago; all we have to guide us are treatises and instrumental "tutors" illustrating and detailing instrumental practices of the period. The problem of course is that these tutors were written as mere educational material, but not for the instruction of professionals, and certainly not for musical geniuses! I have always had my suspicions regarding these sources, supposedly being the absolute last word. Could a John Thompson tutor possibly help us to know how the mercurial Josef Hofmann, or the volcanic Horowitz played? How could a Suzuki violin tutor ever hope to relate any aural image of the spectacular virtuosity of Jascha Heifetz? Of course the whole question is ridiculous; yet who are Hofmann, Horowitz, or Heifetz compared to the genius of a Mozart, a Beethoven, or a Bach as both performers and interpreters of their own music? Of the trillions who have lived and died through the aeons of time, these were - in the crystal ball of human history - giants of truly unique and towering greatness. It's simply ludicrous to believe that instrumental tutors from past centuries could even remotely hand us more than a nano-clue as to how these Herculean geniuses played their own music. The "authentic" movement always has me listening with a skerrick of suspicion and distrust; there are so many stylistic liberties that leave the depth and sincerity of the music crippled by a fervent enterprise to prove that the "authenticity” you're currently listening to is the most historically accurate and state-of-the-art. Historical correctness does not in itself legitimise the true message of the music! On the other hand, I certainly don't subscribe to those turgid old Beecham recordings of Handel's Messiah, with 8 French Horns plus the obbligato Trombone choir, amidst morbidly obese, 19th Cent. sound-textures. However, I do find this recording of the B minor Mass of Bach's - regarded by many as the greatest music composition in the entire Western Canon - carries the music along with the awe and respect with which it deserves, without ever adorning it with fabricated authentic hyperbole. Put simply, the interpretation never gets in the way of the music! I hear the music first, then later acknowledge the unexaggerated style, but that which fits like a glove, and resonates with my veneration and reverence for this unassailable masterpiece. Munchinger's recordings are today all too often regarded as old-fashioned, but principally by those who are happy to be lead by the CD industry, extolling the drivelling extremes of the self-believing so-called historically correct, as being "where it's at"! It’s irrelevant whether Munchinger's is the absolute in historical correctness. What’s of far greater import is that his vision and musicianship is so unequivocally faithful to the music, making it undeniably amongst the greatest interpretations recorded, of this almighty masterpiece!
Title: JS Bach Mass in B Minor
Artist(s): Conductor – Karl Münchinger
Orchestra – Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra
Chorus – Chorus Of The Singakademie, Vienna
Bass Vocals – Tom Krause
Chorus Master – Xaver Meyer
Contralto Vocals – Helen Watts
Soprano Vocals – Elly Ameling, Yvonne Minton
Tenor Vocals – Werner Krenn
Recording Info: Transferred from 15ips 2-track tape
Producer: David Harvey Engineers Gordon Parry & James Lock
Recorded by Decca 25-30 May & 1-3 Jun 1970 Sofiensaal, Vienna
Part 1 - Kyrie: 1. Kyrie Eleison 2. Christe Eleison 3. Kyrie Eleison / Missa, Part II - Gloria: 4. Gloria In Excelcis 5. Et In Terra Pax 26:25
Part II - Laudamus Te 7. Gratias Agimus Tibi 8. Domine Deus 9. Qui Tollis Peccata Mundi 10. Qui Sedes Ad Dextram Patris 11. Quoniam Tu Solus Sanctus 12. Cum Sancto Spiritu 32:20
Part III - Symbolum Nicenum: 1. Credo In Unum Deum 2. Patrem Omnipotentem 3. Et In Unum Dominum 4. Et Incarnatus Est 5. Crucifixus 6. Et Resurrexit 7. Et In Spiritum Sanctum Dominum 27:20
Part IV - Confiteor 9. Et Exspecto / Sanctus: Sanctus / Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei Et Dona Nobis Pacem: 1. Osanna In Excelsis 2. Benedictus 3. Osanna In Excelsis 4. Agnus Dei 5. Dona Nobis Pacem 32:05