Bach, continued

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SDR
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Re: Bach, continued

Post by SDR »

The shortish video linked at the end of the performance, wherein the conductor and various performers comment on the work and their interpretation of it, is worth a watch for those interested. van Veldhoven acknowledges his departures from standard practice, in particular the paring down of vocal forces, sometimes in the middle of a section.

A vocalist and an instrumentalist comment on the differences between performing in tutti and soloing, where in the latter you suddenly need to become more personal, more expressive, in order to connect with the audience . . .

Gardiner writes, ". . . the most poignantly human moment is reserved for that ghostly bridge-passage that links the Confiteor to the Et expecto" ( 1:21:45 in the recording ), about which van Veldhoven, in the after-video (10:05), says, "And then there's a page in the score that has no parallel in Bach's era. Sometimes three sharps or five flats. At one point they're singing in E flat minor. Every key is used. It's as if you're lying in a coffin, waiting for what ? You really don't know what's coming." Another musician takes over: "Just when it seems to have become too complicated ever to be solved . . . there's a ray of light, and the whole knot becomes disentangled in the jubilant Et expecto." van Veldhoven: "It's like an opera with a sudden scene change. The lighting changes and there's the word "resurrectionem" . . . with all the joy that comes with it."

S

SDR
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Re: Bach, continued

Post by SDR »

I've come upon a superior performance of the B minor Mass, from one of the overlooked modern masters of early music performance. Everything seems in order here, including the acoustic properties of the venue. Clear, light, open, revealing, neither rushed (though certainly brisk in places) nor ponderous, the soloists and other performers perfect. The full wondrous heights, breadth and detail of the Mass seem freshly revealed.

Indeed one has the impression here that Herreweghe was looking for new material in the score, or at least previously unrevealed or under-emphasized lines, harmonies and emphases. I judge that he found many of them; we are the happy beneficiaries.

A revelation--and already a generation old. Better late than never ?

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=mi ... ORM=WRVORC

This would be the second of the conductor's recorded performances of this work, released in 1996 and again in 2006 on CD.

S

SDR
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Re: Bach, continued

Post by SDR »

For a sampler, try the Sanctus (1:24:30). Gardiner writes, "---the Sanctus, with its angelic clanging of church bells in final celebration of the victory over death . . . Bach provides us with the most monumental music we have heard so far to convey the majesty of God, and he does so with a kind of Venetian or Byzantine splendour [sic]. Bach evidently intended his Sanctus to be sung and played by angelic forces divided among five different groupings, and, in the case of the vocal basses, iron-lunged heroes capable of imitating a gigantic peal of bells or an organ diapason . . ."

The transfer of the recording to YouTube suffers from a few glitches at moments of transition from one movement to another, in one alarming instance covering the end of one part with the uninterrupted mid-bar commencement of the next. On the plus side, the ample bass end of the spectrum apparently found in the original is evident in the online presentation.

As a further comment on the performance, a propulsive beat is a defining characteristic of the conductor's style here. However, Herreweghe is apparently not a proponent of the modern tendency, often breath-takingly satisfying, of a rapid or even abrupt termination of the final note to a movement.

Here we have another Herreweghe B minor Mass, from 2011.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Ba ... SCL%26%3D0

S

Roderick Grant
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Re: Bach, continued

Post by Roderick Grant »

Something is wrong with the audio. It is tinny and much too soft. It isn't my computer; I played a YouTube version of "Climb Aboard a Butterfly" by Perry Como, and the sound was just fine. Also, the Kyrie you posted below comes across fine, so there must be something wrong with that recording.

SDR
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Re: Bach, continued

Post by SDR »

How interesting. I'll await further reports. I was pleased with the recording; indeed the bass response was particularly gratifying (and I have a small pair of bookshelf speakers only). Granted, the transfer to YouTube was handled clumsily by the individual responsible, a lay person like myself, perhaps.

The second performance, by the same conductor, seems by comparison to the 1998 version to be curiously homogenized, as if the aim this time was a uniformity of tone and texture throughout. The B minor Mass as elevator music---albeit celestial Muzak ?

S

Roderick Grant
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Re: Bach, continued

Post by Roderick Grant »

There is no such thing as "celestial Muzak." It is an embarrassment that one of FLW's closest friends, Senator William Benton (whose son, the late John Benton, built a Wes Peters-designed house in Malibu) once owned Muzak. That must have set Frank's teeth on edge.

SDR
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Re: Bach, continued

Post by SDR »

I haven't understood the perceived need to be entertained constantly, with headphones or earbuds, etc. In my day no one would think of playing a radio or mix tapes all day in the workshop. The problem with Muzak from the beginning, as I recall it, was the content, not the medium: the most insipid and banal of recorded music.

One day in a department store I heard the "piped-in" music (as it was called) running backward ! No one seemed to notice. Now that I think of it, perhaps someone was having a bit of fun . . .

S

SDR
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Re: Bach, continued

Post by SDR »

I hear now the degradation of the sound in the first recording I posted above; here's a much better rendition, by the same conductor and perhaps of the same performance. The parts of the Mass are given in succession, as long as you have your YouTube feed set to Autoplay . . .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGAsTaI ... 86&index=5

S

Roderick Grant
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Re: Bach, continued

Post by Roderick Grant »

Much better! Thank you.

SDR
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Re: Bach, continued

Post by SDR »

I'm sure many of you have gone through Herreweghe's B minor Mass by now and are looking for more . .

Yeah, sure . . .! Nevertheless there is more, of course, and here's another performance of the same piece, equally satisfying if not indeed more thrilling. I'm only half-way through my first listening, and already anxious to share it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=So704KMhspk

So many instrumental and vocal lines are brought forth anew. Crisp and lush at the same time; the soprano and alto soloists and the horns are worthy of special mention right off.

If Beethoven made "edifices in sound," what castles of heaven are built, minute by minute and measure after measure, here ?

S

SDR
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Re: Bach, continued

Post by SDR »

A most unusual and surprising piece of the above-described recording is the Et in terra pax hominibus, beginning at 21:37. The tempo is slower by far than in any other performance of this section that I have ever heard---and is perfect: there's time to enjoy every delicious twist and turn of its passage. Having witnessed this rendition I can't imagine wanting it otherwise.

S

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