Bruckner: Mass No. 3 in F minor

Jutta Hörl, Thorston Büttner, Chöre am Hohen Dom zu Mainz; Mainzer Domorchester/Karsten Storck (Rondeau)

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Bruckner Mass No. 3 in F minor
Jutta Hörl (soprano), Thorston Büttner (tenor),  Chöre am Hohen Dom zu Mainz; Mainzer Domorchester/Karsten Storck
Rondeau ROP 6161
61:26 mins

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Anton Bruckner wrote a great deal of choral music, and most of it before he launched on his immense symphonic output. Prior to embarking on the latter, he devoted much of the first 40 years of his life to the study of counterpoint and musical theory in general, and the climax of this period is in this F minor Mass, a work which is largely more celebrated than actually performed or recorded.

On this disc one hears why: it is a most peculiar work, contrapuntal throughout, yet not in long sweeps, as in the fugal passages in his symphonies, but in a strange stop-go mode. Where his greatest symphonic achievements are cumulative, the pleasures here are oddly piecemeal, though the enormous reverberation time of Mainz Cathedral does what it can to mitigate that effect. The sound is somewhat recessed, too, so that the volume level tends to be uniform, and though one may expect shocks of sound during the Resurrection and other major dramatic points, they don’t come. The odd placing of the quartet of soloists adds to the uniform effect, and they are in any case not a very distinguished bunch.

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Michael Tanner