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CLASSICAL  March 2000

CLASSICAL March 2000

Subject:

Re: Bach's B minor Mass on Period Instruments

From:

Donald Satz <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 5 Mar 2000 21:09:18 PST

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (44 lines)

While reading the "Repeat" thread and its discussion about HIP-related
matters, it made me think that I have not said much of anything about it
relating to its significance and don't intend to do so.  In the comparisons
I am making between performances, I'm registering my perceptions of
performance quality, appeal of interpretative decisions, and some degree
of allegiance to the spirit of the texts.

The fourth part of the Credo, Et incarnatus est, is mysterious and dark
choral music which musically expresses to me the wonder of a spritual
conception and resulting birth.  Timings vary greatly among the compared
versions with Hickox taking over four mintues while Rifkin only needs a
litte over two minutes.  Both ends work very well.  In fact, all versions
were very good.  Although I initially thought that Hickox would sound
sluggish, I ended up feeling that he superbly provided the slow and
inexorable features of gestation.

The fifth part, the Crucifixus, deals with suffering and death but not
in an opressive manner.  This is beautiful and stunning choral music.
One version, Lenonhardt's, is outstanding in every way:  pacing is perfect,
singing is heartfelt and beautiful, and I just can't imagine it being done
better.  Rifkin and Parrott, one-voice per part, are the two slow
performances which stand out for feeling and vocalism.  Each of the other
six versions are fine.

The sixth part, Et resurrexit, is choral music, you gusssed it, for the
resurrection.  The crucifying obliterated any sense of hope for humankind.
With the resurrection, there is a new spirituality.  It was a greatly
significant event for the world, actual or not.  I would expect music
for the event to be very uplifting, and Bach does not let me down.  In
addition, he uplifts us with a powerful spirituality.  Leonhardt's is the
version which has just the right pacing and outstanding choral work.  Put
another way, while the remaining versions are all worthy and uplifting, the
Leonhardt is the only one which elicits in me a sense of actual lift-off.

Somewhat of an aside, when I started the reviews, I developed a perception
that's only grown stronger with time.  I'm finding that the versions
recorded in the 1980's have recorded sound that stands up very well to more
recent recordings.  Yes, recent improvements in technology now allow for
ample fullness and richness of sound.  However, that comes at the cost of
some crispness in sound which is, for me, an important ingredient of sound
quality.

Don Satz
[log in to unmask]

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