What are the best Bach recordings

Baroque music: Pure, sensual, perfect brook

Their most relentless critics are the artists themselves. As soon as they have torn their new records out of the foil and put them on for the first time as normal listeners, they notice unsuccessful transitions, a lack of inspiration, and shaky sounds. Nobody complained at the recording sessions. But now the thought germinates: It must not stop like this. And he's already thinking about the next recording. Of course, the alleged mistakes are small foods, but under a magnifying glass they grow into monsters.

Nobody can say that the conductor Philippe Herreweghe is his jewel, Bachs B minor mass, so far with dirty paws from the showcase. Herreweghe always approached her on tiptoe and with gloves, reverently and prudently, he pulled together the best of his strength. During the recordings in 1988 and 1998, you always thought you were in the top class, the first was released by Virgin, the second by Harmonia Mundi. Herreweghe has now founded his own label Phi and recorded Bach's Opus summum again. Now the artist has to compete against himself.

Like Karajan, who re-recorded the Beethoven symphonies every year, Herreweghe also provides information about his perspective on the in stages Mass in B minor. Big news shouldn't be expected. Herreweghe was never a sprinter, never a power man: for him, historical performance practice was and is rather a path to greater subtlety in musical thought and speech. As early as 1988 the Flemish made music in such a reflected way, as if he wanted to transform the sound of his ensemble into the spiritually clear space of the music. Herreweghe has now completely escaped the music as an audible interpreter; he stands, as it were, behind one of the Gothic pillars that carry the Opus summum and is delighted with the serenity with which his musicians stream through the music.

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Above all, Herreweghe understands the work more fluently than ever before. He takes almost every sentence more quickly, but that is not a question of the metronomic tempo, but of the suppleness, of the rhetorically meaningful. Herreweghe no longer has to explain what is in abundance anyway. And in theological aspects he denies himself the mystical. Wonderful the transition from Confiteor to the Ex expecto, where Bach bends the choral movement to harmonious miracles in anticipation of the resurrection of the dead. Now the choir no longer marvels at these miracles by practically pausing in front of them, but measures them hastily and shyly. Doing without expression increases the effect immensely.

And the Collegium Vocale Gent really makes music like paradise. All the top notes sound blissful and soft like icing on the cake, even in seemingly harmless, in reality wicked coloratura like in Et in terra pax does not smear anything. The soloists feel in this positively light, not brooding, sometimes even cheerful Mass in B minor very well; The ladies and gentlemen Mields, Blažiková, Guillon, Hobbs and Kooij offer pure, sensual, stylistically perfect Bach. By the way, bassist Kooij was already there in 1988, but he was never as valuable as he is today.

Johann Sebastian Bach: "Mass in B minor" (Phi / Grade 1)