Since its rediscovery and first complete performance in the mid-nineteenth century, Bach's B minor Mass has generally been produced with the large, sometimes gargantuan, performing forces typical of that era in the kinds of ensembles gathered for Mendelssohn's oratorios and Beethoven's Missa Solemnis. Twentieth century scholarship has uncovered information about performances of individual movements of the Mass during the composer's lifetime indicating that, in spite of its length, Bach intended it to be a chamber piece for small vocal and instrumental ensembles…
Karl Richter leads a star line-up of soloists including Gundula Janowitz and Hermann Prey in Bach's enduring В minor Mass, a majestic work that showcases Bach's supreme craftsmanship and skill as a choral composer.
The Mass in B Minor, Bach’s last completed vocal work as well as the climax of his creativity, reveals the overwhelming wealth of his compositional skills. In the history of music it ranks highly, as the “Montblanc of church music” (Franz Liszt) – composed during Bach’s time as cantor at the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig. Performed in this important composer’s domain, the Mass in B Minor casted a spell over its listeners as the crowning glory of the Leipzig Bach Festival in 2013: Under the direction of Bach’s successor Georg Christoph Biller, the St. Thomas Boys Choir and an outstanding soloist quintet perform with the prestigious Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, playing on authentic period instruments.
Als die Bachforschung Mitte der 80er Jahre beweisen konnte, dass nicht Die Kunst der Fuge, sondern die Zusammenstellung der H-Moll-Messe Bach in seinen letzten Lebensjahren beschäftigt hat, rückte der theologische Aspekt im Schaffen Bachs, den man zwischenzeitlich als in den späten Leipziger Jahren zunehmend bedeutungslos sehen wollte, wieder ins Zentrum der Betrachtung. Freilich besteht die Messe zum größten Teil aus schon vorher in anderen Zusammenhängen komponierten Einzelteilen, aber sie erfuhren zum Zeitpunkt der Kompilation teilweise grundlegende Umgestaltung. Zumindest das "Et incarnatus est" ist jedoch eine sehr späte, möglicherweise sogar die letzte Komposition Bachs. Sie steht in der Messe neben dem "Crucifixus", der Kontrafaktur eines Satzes aus der frühen Kantate BWV 12: Frühe und späteste Schichten im Schaffen Bachs fügen sich völlig bruchlos aneinander.
…It was unusual for composers working in the Lutheran tradition to compose a Missa tota and Bach's motivations remain a matter of scholarly debate. The Mass was never performed in totality during Bach's lifetime; the first documented complete performance took place in 1859. Since the nineteenth century it has been widely hailed as one of the greatest compositions in history, and today it is frequently performed and recorded…
This unique collection of 55 CDs (477 6167) forms Deutsche Grammophon’s major release in its 111th-anniversary celebrations. The limited-edition box-set gathers together many landmark recordings – from the past to the present. Most of them appear complete, as originally programmed, in their original cover-art – and several include additional material.
Without doubt, the selecction of ones favourite recording within the vast sellection of interpretations of Bach's Mass in B-Minor is a difficult task. I have sung this mass and heard more than ten different recordings of this "miracle of mighty mountain range in the planet of music". For me, Hengelbrocks recording is by far the best one: first of all, Hengelbrocks interpretation is very inspired, with convincing and sometimes innovative tempi, as for instance in the opening Kyrie which, for the first time, I could sense as a funeral march; second, the chorus is brillant, for me even better than the international "stars" as for example the Monteverdi Choir; third, the Soloists wich are members of the choir, integrate perfectly in the whole picture of this master piece; fourth, the balance engineers have done an exceptional work which allows you to hear every detail of the orchestra, soloists and choirs in perfect balance.