Bruckner: Te Deum; Psalm 150; Mass No. 2 in E minor

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LABELS: Hanssler
WORKS: Te Deum; Psalm 150; Mass No. 2 in E minor
PERFORMER: Pamela Coburn (soprano), Ingeborg Danz (alto), Christian Elsner (tenor), Franz-Josef Selig (bass); Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart, Bach-Collegium Stuttgart/Helmuth Rilling
The Te Deum was written ‘to the glory of God’, but the admiring Mahler preferred ‘for the tongues, for seekers after God, for tortured hearts and for flame-chastened souls’. The highlights of this performance of the 1884 version include a sweet-toned solo violin, a wonderful blend of vocal soloists and a full-throated final top C from the choral sopranos. Rilling’s 16-bar ritardando in the final double fugue where Bruckner wrote just one bar is highly questionable, but then he also changes tempi and dynamics in the middle of Psalm 150, a work which carries on where the Te Deum left off. The chorus comes into its own in the eight-part E minor Mass (1869), the long unaccompanied Kyrie carrying the tenors to a thrilling top B after some sinking pitch by the ladies at the opening. The unique feature of this wonderful Mass (here in its 1882 revision) is the glorious texture of its Palestrina/Monteverdi-like wind and brass accompaniment. Over-keen trombones notwithstanding, the balance is good, the acoustic resonant. Timeless music. Christopher Fifield