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Mass in B Minor

4.7 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Jan. 24 1986)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Universal Music Canada
  • ASIN: B0000057CN
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #33,316 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Disc: 1
1. Kyrie: Chorus: Lord, Have Mercy On Us.
2. Kyrie: Duet (Soprano - Mezzo-Soprano): Christ, Have Mercy On Us.
3. Kyrie: Chorus: Lord, Have Mercy On Us.
4. Gloria: Chorus: Glory Be To God On High.
5. Gloria: Chorus: And On Earth Peace To Men Of Good Will.
6. Gloria: Aria (Soprano): We Praise Thee; We Bless Thee; We Adore Thee; We Glorify Thee.
7. Gloria: Chorus: We Give Thee Thanks For Thy Great Glory.
8. Gloria: Duet (Soprano - Tenor): Lord God, Heavenly King, God The Almighty Father. O Lord, The Only-Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, Most High Lord God, Lamb Of God, Son Of The Father.
9. Gloria: Chorus: Thou Who Takest Away The Sins Of The World, Have Mercy Upon Us. Thou Who Takest Away The Sins Of The World, Receive Our Prayer.
10. Gloria: Aria (Alto): Thou Who Sittest At The Right Hand Of The Father, Have Mercy Upon Us.
See all 12 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Credo: Chorus: I Believe In One God.
2. Credo: Chorus: I Believe In One God, The Father Almighty...
3. Credo: Duet (Soprano - Mezzo-Soprano): All In One Lord Jesus Christ...
4. Credo: Chorus: And Was Incarnate By The Holy Ghost Of The Virgin Mary And Was Made Man.
5. Credo: Chorus: And Was Crucified Also For Us Under Pontius Pilate...
6. Credo: Chorus: And The Third Day He Rose Again According To The Scriptures...
7. Credo: Aria (Bass): And I Believe In The Holy Ghost...
8. Credo: Chorus: I Acknowledge One Baptism For The Remission Of Sins.
9. Credo: Chorus: And I Look For The Ressurection Of The Dead...
10. Sanctus: Chorus: Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Of Hosts...
See all 15 tracks on this disc

Product Description


One of the most frequently mentioned "favourite" works of Bach, the B Minor Mass is not really a functional liturgical work, but an assemblage of movements written over a period of many years. Its grand scale is certainly awesome, but its musical and spiritual unity is more remarkable, considering its origin and the fact that it contains several different compositional styles--not to mention some of Bach's most profound and beautiful music. Performing this work and preserving a sense of its grand design while bringing out the considerable musical details is a challenge that most choirs, orchestras, and conductors are not up to. Almost by consensus, however, John Eliot Gardiner's version is the most successful--and it is indeed a phenomenal recording--at once sumptuous and penetrating, with gorgeous choral and solo singing, and spacious, vibrant sound. --David Vernier

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on May 27 2001
Format: Audio CD
Gardiner has recently gone out of favor among some followers of period instrument bands, maybe because of his famous tyrannical temperament. More than a few critics were happy when the recording project of his laudable Bach Cantata Pilgrimage was cut by DG. That's ok. But the fact is, more than a decade later, Gardiner's recordings of Bach's major sacred works are still at the top of the pile, and the Mass in B minor may be the most evident example.
Despite some nice later recordings, particularly Hickox's and Herreweghe's, Gardiner's still stands out as the more passionately committed one. Being a predominantly choral work, the Mass in B minor benefits immensely from the extraordinary singing of Gardiner's Monteverdi Choir. And Gardiner's option of using solo voices in some choral parts, as in the first Kyrie, the Et in terra pax and the Crucifixus, add a more intimate dimension which nicely contrasts with the more extrovert passages, where Gardiner shines as usual, with brilliant trumpets and fervourous singing.
Of course, the Mass has also some extraordinary solo pieces, and Gardiner's soloists excel, as the playing of the English Baroque Soloists does. But it's the choirs that really make the difference. And here Gardiner's control of dynamics, rhythm and articulation is unsurpassed. He can draw the most vibrant singing from his choir without making it sound forced, without losing textural clarity.
I tried to look for other recordings of this masterpiece. Harnoncourt disappointed, Brüggen was only ok, Parrott was intriguing, Hickox was excelent, Herreweghe was a joy. But I always find myself going back to the same Gardiner recording over and over again.
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Format: Audio CD
Although I've been listening to Bach's choral works all my life, I am relatively a newcomer to Gardiner's B-Minor mass. Upon first listening it has become one of my favorite recordings of Bach's Great Catholic Mass next to Andrew Parrot's and Phillipe Herreweghe's.
Gardiner's reading is much different than that of Herreweghe's. It seems to be impossible to record the "perfect" B-Minor Mass, and by all means, neither have achieved it- although both have come close. What is readily noticable is that Herrweghe's recording is more pious and introverted, while Gardiner's is very extroverted.
I was pleased to see that Gardiner chose to scale down his choir to a smaller force. Recorded in 1985, it was released during a time shortly after Rifkin gave his infamous lecture on performing Bach's concerted choral works using one voice per part. While the liner notes of this present recording do not seem to praise such an approach, Gardiner uses the One Voice Per Part principle in several numbers. What a surprise! This is a very "different" BWV 232. For example, "Et in terra pax" is performed only with soloists in the beginning, while the choir (or concertists) enter one by one (just as the concertists enter one by one in the famous Cantata No. 21) This helps the recording build dramatic intensity. The "Crucifixus" is also appropriately performed OVPP.
Each soloist was very good, but I did not find myself particularly blown away. The orchestral playing was expressive and joyful, although the trumpets seemed to blare at times.
To compare the Herreweghe recording to this one may be impossible since they are so different. While Herreweghe seemed to focus of bringing the B-Minor Mass back to its rightful place the church (and his choice of top soloists to match), Gardiner still presents BWV 232 with irresistable freshness and bombast.
This is a recording I will want to return to often.
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Format: Audio CD
What more can you say about this version of Bach's Mass In B Minor that hasn't already been said? It's the most beautiful piece of music ever written, by the greatest composer ever, and Gardiner's version is the best recorded version of the piece. I can't say enough about this piece, so rather than continuing to ramble, I'll just end by saying buy this two-disc album, you won't regret it.
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Format: Audio CD
It's easy to fall into hyperboles when describing this recording. When I bought it, the cashier said "I approve highly of this purchase. It's the only version I allow customers to buy." Another employee came up to the counter and said "this is the most perfect recording of anything I know of." The piece itself has also been the subject of overstatement. In the CD's booklet a nineteenth century Swiss critic is quoted as saying that Bach's Mass in B minor is the "greatest work of music of all ages and of all peoples." Though all of these quotes are exaggerations, they're not ridiculous positions to hold. Bach's mass is an amazing work that does not let up for almost two hours. This recording compliments the work to a degree not typical on classical recordings. It's an amazing performance with an unbelievably high quality. After hearing this piece and the St. Matthew Passion I now know why some have said "it all started with Bach." I also know I'll be buying more CDs from the Archiv label.
The Cd booklet raises such questions as "why did Bach write this piece?" and "was it ever performed complete during his lifetime?" It also gives a good history of the composition and performance of the mass. It's by no means comprehensive, but it gives a good general background for the work.
The music is beyond words. I convinced myself to buy it after hearing just a few audio samples of the Kyrie and the Sanctus. It didn't take much. The work is a cathedral in itself. Nonetheless, you don't have to be a catholic or even a christian to appreciate the music on these disks, but were I trying to convert someone I'd probably have them listen to this to get 'em in the mood.
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