Bach: Mass in B minor - Mortensen
CPO 777 851-2 (2 discs)
Classical - Vocal
Bach: Mass in B minor
Maria Keohane, Joanne Lunn, Alex Potter, Jan Kobow, Peter Harvey, Else Torp, Hanna Kappelin
Lars Ulrik Mortensen
Impressive Transparency with a Choir of Soloists The Concerto Copenhagen, the leading Scandinavian ensemble for historical performance practice, is currently regarded worldwide as one of the most remarkable and imaginative orchestras in this field under its artistic director Lars Ulrik Mortensen. The orchestra’s vitality, sense of style, and communicative talent have become its trademarks. Accordingly, we have decided to release Bach’s Mass in B minor on two SACDs (moreover, in quality surround sound) featuring this extraordinary ensemble and top-class soloists.
The Mass in B minor is regarded as one of the outstanding achievements of music history. On the present recording the orchestra’s instrumental dimensions correspond to those of Bach’s own ensemble; here too the customary lower concert pitch from his times forms the tuning standard. However, the use of solo voices in most of the choral numbers is disputed. This conflict goes back to various extremely controversial theories introduced in 1981 by the American conductor and musicologist Joshua Rifkin, who believed that most of Bach’s choral works were intended for solo voices.
The harpsichordist and conductor Lars Ulrik Mortensen describes this idea as a new approach that »slowly but surely is changing our entire idea of Bach’s tonal universe and in my opinion numbers among the most important modern insights into historical performance practice.« He continues as follows: »When compared with more traditional, larger ensembles, the relation between vocalists and instrumentalists changes completely, so that the music necessarily becomes much lighter and more transparent.
The vocal parts are ‘individualized’; there is a more pronounced contrast between ‘individual’ and ‘group,’ which generally is an extremely important architectonic aspect in Bach’s vocal music. Therefore, it is both possible as well as necessary to bring to light countless details that otherwise would have been lost.« Accordingly, in the choral numbers the soloists are in each case reinforced by a single ripieno singer. The audio depth and transparency are breathtaking!
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