J S Bach, La Capella Reial De Catalunya, Le Concert Des Nations, Jordi Savall - Messe En Si Mineur (BWV 232)

Published Friday 25th January 2013
J S Bach, La Capella Reial De Catalunya, Le Concert Des Nations, Jordi Savall - Messe En Si Mineur (BWV 232)
J S Bach, La Capella Reial De Catalunya, Le Concert Des Nations, Jordi Savall - Messe En Si Mineur (BWV 232)

STYLE: Choral
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
LABEL: Alia Vox AV DVD 9896

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

Forgive me if I am a little vague on some of the details concerning this set as one of the DVDs, a sort of "making of" documentary, is in French with no sub-titles and I may not have caught everything. Not to worry though as the other DVD, a live performance on Bach's sublime 'Mass in B Minor' from Fontfroide Abbey, Narbonne speaks for itself and the two SACDs are stunning. This setting of the Mass is too long to fit on one CD - and was too long for use in worship (as well as being too Catholic for Protestant use and not sufficiently Roman for Catholic use) - leading some scholars to suspect that this was Bach gathering together as many of his liturgical ideas as he could get away with and publishing the music almost as a reference tool. As he was also working on his 'Musical Offering' and 'Art of Fugue' at much the same time this theory is not beyond the bounds of possibility. The four discs are presented inside a glossy hardback book filled with colour pictures, three essays in various languages (including English) plus the usual texts, translations and performer details that we expect in any full price release. Jordi Savall (born 1941) is a prolific Catalan musician who specialises in Early Music. La Capella Reial De Catalunya is his choir and Le Concert Des Nations his orchestra so this is very much his project. Throughout there is great attention to detail: the instruments are appropriate to the period so the woodwind really are made of wood and the trumpets would not be recognised by Louis Armstrong. The choir, we are told, sing the Latin texts with a German accent and are placed amongst the instrumentalists rather than in a block. You can see this in the concert DVD which is, by the way, very well shot giving the opportunity to take a close look at all the performers and their instruments as well as giving us a tour of the Abbey. The musicianship is outstanding and is certainly one of the best performances that I have heard - although I freely concede that I have not heard all that are available on disc. All music lovers should own and play Bach's B Minor Mass. Bach collectors will think this release is well worth the money but there are other comparable recordings available for less. While not wanting to judge a book by its cover this release is beautifully presented and a joy to hear. If money is no object then this is an easy recommendation; if you are working to a budget then there are other releases that would do just as well.

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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