Herzogenberg: Mass in E minor, Op. 87

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COMPOSERS: Herzogenberg
WORKS: Mass in E minor, Op. 87
PERFORMER: Barbara Fleckenstein (soprano), Bärbel Müller (alto), Rodrigo Orrego (tenor), Frederick Martin (bass) Mainz Bach Choir, Rheinland-Pfalz Philharmonic/Ralf Otto
CATALOGUE NO: 999 372-2
If Heinrich von Herzogenberg (1843-1900) is known today it is generally because of his association with Brahms. In 1871 he moved to Leipzig, met the Bach scholar Spitta and founded the city’s Bach Choir. This Mass, thought lost in the war but rediscovered in Leipzig, is in memory of Spitta, who died in 1894. Nothing like Brahms’s Requiem, it gets off to a dramatic start (even the performers here seem surprised), and has extremely lovely moments (eg, Gloria, ‘Et vitam venturi’, end of the Credo, Benedictus and particularly the Agnus Dei). Its harmony is fairly adventurous, fugues abound, orchestration favours wind and brass, soloists (mostly a fine blend) are used as a quartet. The composer’s despondency at his friend’s death comes across vividly in this reading. Christopher Fifield