Artist: La Petite Bande, Sigiswald Kuijken
Title: Bach: Mass B Minor BWV 232
Genre: Classical
Release Date: 2009
Duration: 01:41:39
Quality: High-Fidelity DSF Stereo DSD64/2.82MHz
Label: Challenge Records
Source: nativeDSDmusic

In the 1980s, Joshua Rifkin published his Preliminary Report on the workings and makeup of the “choir” in the vocal works of Johann Sebastian Bach. His conclusions (then provisional and to be further elaborated on) radically contradicted the practice of the time, which consisted in unreservedly assuming that by “choir” — indeed — Bach meant a vocal ensemble that has multiple singers per part, resulting in a more or less substantial number of performers. Before Rifkin, nobody had studied the sources with such seriousness from that standpoint or sought to envision the actual conditions Bach faced in his position as cantor. Rifkin’s findings, thus, were “sacrilegious.” Generally, he concluded, Bach used one singer per part in his cantatas, motets, passions, etc., so there was no “choir” in the modern sense of the word — consequently, the B minor Mass requires just eight vocalists (the Osanna is set for 2 choirs: 2 x 4 singers).

It would be hard to imagine a greater contrast between performances of Bach’s B minor Mass than Otto Klemperer’s 1967 recording featuring the New Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus, and Sigiswald Kuijken’s 2009 version with La Petite Band. Klemperer’s recording features a star-studded cast of soloists and sounds as if it were carved from giant slabs of granite, while Kuijken is seated in the concertmaster’s chair, leading a performance with one voice to a part. Musical fashions change, and this recording reflects research and an aesthetic attitude that the B minor Mass does not need to be backed by an army of vocalists and instrumentalists. As with his series of Bach cantatas, Kuijken eliminates nearly all doublings, instrumental and vocal, except for the first and second violins, of which there are two each. Although other conductors have taken similar approaches, most notably Joshua Rifkin in his pioneering 1981 recording, it could be argued that Kuijken has done it best. Aside from the effortless virtuosity of all the musicians, the qualities that most distinguish this performance are its inwardness and its spirituality. Technical mastery is a quality shared by all great recordings of the B minor Mass, but the inwardness and the intimacy of this performance make it unique. Each musician is alone on his or her part, as in chamber music, so each part is infused with individual personality. Under Kuijken’s intense and assured leadership, the result is a recording that stands among the greatest ever made, including Klemperer’s. Challenge Classics’ super audio sound is richly detailed, amazingly clear, and evocative. ~~AllMusic Review by James Leonard


01 – I Kyrie- Kyrie eleison
02 – I Kyrie- Christe eleison
03 – I Kyrie- Kyrie eleison
04 – II Gloria- Gloria in excelsis
05 – II Gloria- Et in terra pax
06 – II Gloria- Laudamus te
07 – II Gloria- Gratias agimus tibi
08 – II Gloria- Domine Deus
09 – II Gloria- Qui tollis peccata mundi
10 – II Gloria- Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris
11 – II Gloria- Quoniam tu solus sanctus
12 – II Gloria- Cum Sancto Spiritu
13 – Symbolum Nicenum (Credo)- Credo in unum Deum
14 – Symbolum Nicenum (Credo)- Patrem omnipotentem
15 – Symbolum Nicenum (Credo)- Et in unum Dominum
16 – Symbolum Nicenum (Credo)- Et incarnatus est
17 – Symbolum Nicenum (Credo)- Crucifixus
18 – Symbolum Nicenum (Credo)- Et resurrexit
19 – Symbolum Nicenum (Credo)- Et in Spiritum Sanctum Dominum
20 – Symbolum Nicenum (Credo)- Confiteor
21 – Symbolum Nicenum (Credo)- Et expecto
22 – Sanctus, Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei- Sanctus
23 – Sanctus, Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei- Osanna in excelsis
24 – Sanctus, Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei- Benedictus
25 – Sanctus, Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei- Osanna in excelsis
26 – Sanctus, Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei- Agnus Dei
27 – Sanctus, Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei- Dona nobis pacem