J S Bach, Herbert von Karajan - Mass In B Minor

Published Thursday 9th November 2006
J S Bach, Herbert von Karajan - Mass In B Minor
J S Bach, Herbert von Karajan - Mass In B Minor

STYLE: Choral
RATING 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
LABEL: Naxos Historical 81105354

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

This recording was made in during 1952-53 in two places and with two orchestras. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra was booked anonymously to record the choruses with the Choral Society of the Friends of Music, Vienna, while the reduced forces of the Philharmonia Orchestra, with the section principals for instrumental solo parts, accompanied the solos and duets at Abbey Road in London. Herbert von Karajan conducts the recording with soloists Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Margi Höffgen, Nicolai Gedda and Heinz Rehfuss. Many would say - rightly in this reviewer's opinion - that the B Minor Mass (BWV 232) is Bach's masterpiece. He does borrow from some of his earlier work but the whole fits together so well that we will allow him this compositional shortcut. Karajan does not permit the pace to slacken and gets fine performances from all concerned, particularly the tenor Gedda. The joins between the two recordings are not noticeable at all and though the general sound quality is not first rate, that we should expect given the age of the recordings. The two hours playing time fly by and we are given a bonus Appendix of extracts of other historical recordings of the Mass, including a beautiful "Agnus Dei" sung by the legendary soprano Kathleen Ferrier.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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