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This new recording of the Bach Mass in B minor has much to recommend it -- excellent chorus, good to excellent soloists & wonderful conducting. The orchestra plays on modern instruments, but in a style that clearly has been influenced by the "historically informed performance" (HIP) movement. In my humble opinion, this approach is preferable to "real" antique instruments, or copies, which typically sound too thin and abrasive to my ears. The conductor knows his stuff -- tempos sound spot-on to me throughout & the orchestral playing is top-notch. A terrific bargain at the price!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
BEST OF OF BOTH WORLDSJune 27 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
To call a recording a compromise is to damn it with faint praise - and I certainly don't want to do that with this outstanding new set. Rather let's say that it gets the best of both worlds - of historical performance practice (Gardiner) and the solid German virtues of traditional Bach performance (Richter). The Cologne Chamber Orchestra played, under a different name, on original instruments until a decade ago when their conductor Helmut Müller-Brühl decided to switch to modern instruments so that they could play in larger venues. But the disciplines of historical practice - crisp articulation, sparing use of legato and vibrato - remain. The playing here is light, with flowing speeds, yet expressive with none of the choppy over-accented playing familiar from such as Harnoncourt. There's not a treble or a counter-tenor in sight but Helmut Müller-Brühl has chosen very young soloists with fresh voices and they are all excellent. The Korean soprano has a sweet tone reminiscent of Kathleen Battle and how much more expressive (at least to my ears) sound the warm and flexible Norwegian and Swedish mezzo-sopranos than a counter-tenor would. Okay I admit counter-tenor is my least favourite voice type. The chorus is small and sing well. The sound is exemplary. I was listening on SACD 5.1 surround sound where the rear speakers conveyed the ambience from a generous-sized acoustic and the voices were able to expand and bloom outside the confines of the speakers. So if want the vocal and intsrumental lightness of "authentic" Bach but with the sweeter tone of modern pitch and instruments (and no counter tenors!) this is a set to explore. If you have SACD capability then don't hesitate - only die-hard Gardnerites won't succumb.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A more fitting review for this fine recordingApril 22 2006
Christopher M. Wallace
- Published on Amazon.com
The review below this one is not accurate! This recording is not at all harsh! It is actually quite pleasant. I have many recordings of Mass in B minor and this is often the one I listen to when I want to relax. I much like all of the soloists (they are not annoying as they can be in some others). As far as the trumpet goes, it is actually my favorite thing about this recording! I wish I can hear the trumpet in others like I can in this one. It is played beautifully as well. I say, if for no other reason, get this actually BECAUSE of the trumpet! Yes, just the opposite of what the reviewer below wrote. Thus, I wrote this review to correct a terrible injustice. One spewed out against an excellent recording.
3 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Aggressive and FrustratingMarch 5 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
This is one of my favorite pieces.
I am quite fond of the Cologne Chamber Orchestra. Their other recordings of Bach work (e.g. Branderburg concertos, Orchestal suites) are quite pleasing (for the price), though not too inspiring. I wouldn't choose them as my favorites, but it is sometimes nice to pick up a fresh look at favorite pieces.
Unfortunately this was not the case with this recording.
I was barely able to listen to this CD past "Gloria In Excelsis Deo" (track #4). I was literally infuriated by the way the trumpets were allowed to play, so aggressively with no care to the rest of the ensemble. They just "flashed" in and out, with sparkly fanfare-like trills. No regard to the rest of the orcheatra, no regard to the total harmonic structure.
It is a shame becuase the musicians are more than able to play this piece, and though the style is of playing leans towards "on period instruments", they play on modern instruments. This could have been a very interesting recording since with modern instruments and the obvious flawless techinique of the members of this ensmble would differentiate it from the "traditional" period instruments recordings, where the period instruments sometime pose an evident challenge to the players.
With Herreweghe's outstanding recording, or the more recent Martin Perlman's with the Boston Baroque there is very little reason to buy this CD.
NOTE: NAXOS released this exact recording in a non-SACD version (cheaper too) see ASIN:B0007ORDWM, my review is of the non-SACD cd.