J.S. Bach
Recommended Recordings


Mass in B Minor

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Sergiu Celibidache
Accompaniment/Orchestra:Munich Philharmonic Orchestra and Bach Choir of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz.
Soloists:Barbara Bonney, soprano
Cornelia Wulkopf, alto
Ruxandra Donose Danila, mezzo-soprano
Peter Schreier, tenor
Yaron Windmüller, baritone
Anton Scharinger, bass
Joshard Daus, chorus master
Instrumentation:Bassoon
Cello
Choir
Flute
Harpsichord
Horn
Oboe
Orchestra
Organ
Trumpet
Violin
Voice
Individual Works:Mass in B Minor BWV 232
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:EMI
Catalog Number:7243 5 57844 2 1
Year Released/Recorded:1990
Total Playing Time:127:52 minutes
Comments:George Murnu said:

Years ago, after obtaining an unofficial copy of this performance, I wrote the comments that can still be read on this site. Now EMI has released this recording in much better sound from the original tapes of the Bavarian Radio; the new catalog number is given above. Thus question arises whether my original comments are still valid, since the better sound of the official release allows us to hear important details previously hidden. The short answer is "yes", with one exception however. This is not an old fashioned performance with a large chorus and orchestra. Rather Celi uses a reduced section of the Munich Philharmonic and a chorus of about 50 singers. This is still larger than many period instruments groups use today, however Celi recognized that the use of original instruments and of a reduced chorus is impractical in the 2000+ seats Philharmonie im Gasteig hall in Munich. What may however surprise many not aware of Celibidache's lifelong interest in early music and what certainly benefits most from the better sound is Celi's knowledge of baroque performance practice. The chorus and orchestra use little vibrato; this recording is in fact a model of how to apply period practices to modern instruments orchestras. As I have said in my previous comments, this is a great performance and having it in the best possible sound is a treat. Thank you Celibidache estate and EMI.

George Murnu said:

Celibidache and Bach? Not that surprising if one keeps in mind that Celi's doctoral thesis was about Josquin Des Prez, a composer who lived centuries before Bach. Make no mistake, this is a great performance. From the opening bars of the 'Kyrie' Celibidache's trademarks are present: a remarkable clarity of detail and spacious tempi. This is not a brutal Kyrie like in some recordings, nor a desperate one, rather a very pious. The rest of the movement is taken at a very slow tempo, perhaps the slowest ever recorded - and yes, I am familiar with the recordings made by Otto Klemperer and Karl Richter. And if the second 'Kyrie' as well as other choruses such as 'Et Incarnatus Est' or 'Crucifixus' are also taken slowly - though not quite as slow as the opening movement - in the rest of the work the tempi are more alert than most of the large orchestra versions of the work such as those by Karajan, Klemperer, and sometimes even Neville Marriner! Choruses such as 'Gloria in Excelsis Deo', ' Cum Sancto Spiritu', or 'Et Resurrexit' are remarkably buoyant and there is little thickness for such large forces. Moreover, in arias such as 'Christe Eleison', 'Laudamus Te', or 'Et in Unum Dominum' the phrasing even owes to period instrument practices! Yet there is never doubt that Celi is at the helm and throughout the performance we can hear details hidden in other recordings. I would like to especially mention the 'Sanctus' taken not at fortissimo like in most recordings but at mezzo-forte, at a tempo which is slower than Marriner's but slightly faster than Karajan's, and which displays the richness of Bach's writing like in no other performance that I have heard. The soloists are uniformly good and the Munich Philharmonic is world-class when playing for their music director. This is a live recording made November 18, 1990 and is unedited. Thus what we hear is exactly what the Munich public heard in the concert. Being a live recording and made by a company that obviously does not have access to the original tapes, the quality of the recording is not ideal and a better detail of the trumpets is to be preferred. I do hope that EMI will release this performance in the future installments of the Celibidache Edition; even so the quality is better than that of a lot of live recordings. In an age of period performances a great conductor shows us that there is still a lot to be discovered in Bach's music when performed with a large orchestra and chorus.Celibidache and Bach? Not that surprising if one keeps in mind that Celi's doctoral thesis was about Josquin Des Prez, a composer who lived centuries before Bach. Make no mistake, this is a great performance. From the opening bars of the 'Kyrie' Celibidache's trademarks are present: a remarkable clarity of detail and spacious tempi. This is not a brutal Kyrie like in some recordings, nor a desperate one, rather a very pious. The rest of the movement is taken at a very slow tempo, perhaps the slowest ever recorded - and yes, I am familiar with the recordings made by Otto Klemperer and Karl Richter. And if the second 'Kyrie' as well as other choruses such as 'Et Incarnatus Est' or 'Crucifixus' are also taken slowly - though not quite as slow as the opening movement - in the rest of the work the tempi are more alert than most of the large orchestra versions of the work such as those by Karajan, Klemperer, and sometimes even Neville Marriner! Choruses such as 'Gloria in Excelsis Deo', ' Cum Sancto Spiritu', or 'Et Resurrexit' are remarkably buoyant and there is little thickness for such large forces. Moreover, in arias such as 'Christe Eleison', 'Laudamus Te', or 'Et in Unum Dominum' the phrasing even owes to period instrument practices! Yet there is never doubt that Celi is at the helm and throughout the performance we can hear details hidden in other recordings. I would like to especially mention the 'Sanctus' taken not at fortissimo like in most recordings but at mezzo-forte, at a tempo which is slower than Marriner's but slightly faster than Karajan's, and which displays the richness of Bach's writing like in no other performance that I have heard. The soloists are uniformly good and the Munich Philharmonic is world-class when playing for their music director. This is a live recording made November 18, 1990 and is unedited. Thus what we hear is exactly what the Munich public heard in the concert. Being a live recording and made by a company that obviously does not have access to the original tapes, the quality of the recording is not ideal and a better detail of the trumpets is to be preferred. I do hope that EMI will release this performance in the future installments of the Celibidache Edition; even so the quality is better than that of a lot of live recordings. In an age of period performances a great conductor shows us that there is still a lot to be discovered in Bach's music when performed with a large orchestra and chorus.Celibidache and Bach? Not that surprising if one keeps in mind that Celi's doctoral thesis was about Josquin Des Prez, a composer who lived centuries before Bach. Make no mistake, this is a great performance. From the opening bars of the 'Kyrie' Celibidache's trademarks are present: a remarkable clarity of detail and spacious tempi. This is not a brutal Kyrie like in some recordings, nor a desperate one, rather a very pious. The rest of the movement is taken at a very slow tempo, perhaps the slowest ever recorded - and yes, I am familiar with the recordings made by Otto Klemperer and Karl Richter. And if the second 'Kyrie' as well as other choruses such as 'Et Incarnatus Est' or 'Crucifixus' are also taken slowly - though not quite as slow as the opening movement - in the rest of the work the tempi are more alert than most of the large orchestra versions of the work such as those by Karajan, Klemperer, and sometimes even Neville Marriner! Choruses such as 'Gloria in Excelsis Deo', ' Cum Sancto Spiritu',

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • George Murnu
Date First Submitted:11/11/2004
Purchasing:Suggested Purchasing Sources
Note: Inclusion in this database does not guarantee the availability of any recording. Some recordings may be out-of-print or no longer available.

 [Views]  [Search]  [Recommend A Recording]