JS Bach

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: BIS
ALBUM TITLE: JS Bach
WORKS: Lutheran Masses, BWV 235 & BWV 236; Sanctus in G, BWV 240; Sanctus, BWV 241; Kyrie in C minor from Missa, BWV Anh. 26; Christe in G minor, BWV 242; Sanctus in D, BWV 238; Sanctus in C, BWV 237
PERFORMER: Hana Blazíková, Joanne Lunn (soprano), Robin Blaze (countertenor), Gerd Türk (tenor), Peter Kooij (bass); Bach Collegium Japan/Masaaki Suzuki
CATALOGUE NO: BIS-2081 (hybrid CD/SACD)

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Bach’s five Lutheran Masses – one of them subsequently became the basis of the great B minor Mass – are absorbingly fascinating essays in the art of musical parody. Each borrows extensively from Bach’s vast store of sacred cantatas, offering us perhaps an insight to music which he himself considered of particular merit. Such Masses as these, consisting of a Kyrie and Gloria, could be sung either at a Lutheran service or at a Catholic one, and it is pretty well certain that at least one of them was performed at Leipzig. Of the two Masses presented here BWV 236, of which Bach’s autograph score has been preserved, dates from the late 1730s while BWV 235 may be a few years earlier. The disc additionally includes four independent settings of the Sanctus text.

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Masaaki Suzuki and his disciplined singers and instrumentalists bring a pleasingly light touch to the dance-like Kyrie opening chorus of BWV 235 and their jubilant declamation of the choral first movement of the Gloria is infectiously spirited. The Kyrie of BWV 236, sounding a more archaic note, is arresting for its chromaticisms. What a splendid contrast it provides with the exhilarating Gloria chorus that follows! But oh how I miss the two resonant horn parts, here reallocated to the soprano and alto vocal line, of Bach’s opening chorus of the cantata Gott der Herr is Sonn und Schild, BWV 79 from which the piece derives. In short, notwithstanding occasional choral rough edges, there are few disappointments.