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Bach: Mass in B minor - Butt

Bach: Mass in B minor - Butt

Linn Records  CKD 354 (2 discs)

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Vocal


Bach: Mass in B minor BWV 232 (ed. Rifkin)

Dunedin Consort
John Butt, conductor


Bach's Mass in B Minor is undoubtedly his most spectacular choral work and the Dunedin Consort's soloist-led performance enables a level of clarity and expression that is not traditionally a feature of modern choral performance.

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Review by John Broggio - September 1, 2011

In common with Butt's other recordings for Linn, this is a triumph.

As in Bach: Matthäuspassion - Butt, Butt and the Dunedin Consort and Players adopt one voice per part. Here Susan Hamilton, Cecilia Osmond, Margot Oitzinger, Thomas Hobbs and Matthew Brook are the principals with Nicola Corbishley, Katie Trethewey, Annemieke Cantor (principal in the Sanctus & Osanna), Christopher Watson (principal in the Osanna) and Christopher Adams (principal in the Osanna) providing the ripieno parts.

Despite the small forces (orchestrally as well as vocally) the opening of the Kyrie eleison has tremendous weight; Butt paces this movement so that it moves naturally forward as an inexorable force of musical logic. All the singers seem in agreement with this conception and they build to a tremendous climax. The Christe eleison find Hamilton & Osmond duetting beautifully over an accompaniment that is weighty in tone but significantly does not get weighed down but is a buoyant support to the voices. The chorus then gets to shine in the reprise of Kyrie eleison, Gloria in excelsis Deo & Et in terra pax.

In her aria Laudamus te, Cecilia Osmond gets a chance to shine once more and does so magnificently; so to does the leader of the Dunedin Consort and Players Simon Jenkins who quite upstages recent concertante contributions to the Kuijken series of cantatas. The Gratias is extremely grand and spacious, yet still carries weight and momentum before it, sweeping majestically towards Domine deus where Susan Hamilton has her second duet, this time with Thomas Hobbs. As in other places, great singing abounds and there are many colourful contributions from the orchestra - Katy Bircher (flute) in particular. The Qui tollis for chorus is appropriately lugubrious despite the marvellous Bircher once more providing a model of accompaniment.

In Qui sedes, Margot Oitzinger fully takes her chance to shine and shares a wonderful dialogue with Patrick Beaugirard (oboe) before they hand over to Matthew Brook, Anneke Scott (horn) & Ursula Leveaux (bassoon) in the wonderful Quoniam tu solus Sanctus. The segue into the concluding Cum Sancto Spiritu of the Missa is a huge shock for this playing and singing is very joyful indeed and at the very limits of what can be regarded as a playable tempo - it is a reflection on the use of one voice per part and small orchestral forces that such a fast tempo does not sound garbled or hectoring. This caps a wonderful first part and is a truly elated performance. Much of the same merits apply to the Symbolum Nicenum and the Sanctus, Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei, so rather than repeating oneself, it suffices to say that the emotional impact is no less and arguably greater.

The recording made in Greyfriars Kirk is resonant without robbing us of any detail - perfect.

This set cannot be too highly recommended. Bach: Mass in B minor - Junghänel, Bach: Mass in B minor - van Veldhoven and Bach: Mass in B minor - Suzuki are all extremely fine and recommendable but none has quite the joyful spring in its step as this one from Butt.

Copyright © 2011 John Broggio and HRAudio.net

Performance:

Sonics (Multichannel):

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