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 Recording of the Week  Bach B minor Mass from Suzuki

A new Bach B minor Mass has got me very excited this week. It comes from Masaaki Suzuki and his Bach Collegium Japan on the BIS label. As you probably know Suzuki is part way through a cycle of Bach Cantatas which are getting fantastic reviews, and when the cycle is finally complete (a little way off admittedly as he is only on Volume 36 of what I imagine will get up to somewhere near 60) I think it may well become ‘the’ version to have.

Masaaki Suzuki
Masaaki Suzuki

Unlike the two surviving Bach Passions (John and Matthew), Bach’s great Mass wasn’t originally conceived as a single entity. Indeed, when he presented Friedrich August II with a score of his ‘Missa’ in B minor in 1733, it consisted of only the Kyrie and Gloria, (the first two parts of the mass text). And even in 1749 when it was completed it was bundled in four very separate parts. There is a theory that he never expected the work to be performed in its entirety, and certainly at nearly two hours in length it would never have been part of a church liturgy. But the power of the music, combined with wide stylistic and technical extremes makes it in my opinion one of the great masterworks of all time, whether originally conceived that way or not.

Whereas Handel was well-known for his 'borrowings' (where he essentially stole things off other composers), Bach frequently used the so-called 'parody technique' (where he would recycle earlier compositions of his own using new texts). There are some excellent examples in the B minor Mass so I thought I’d give you a chance to hear one of them ... whilst at the same time giving you a snippet of the new recording.


Bach - B minor Mass

No.17: Coro - Crucifixus (from the new recording)


Bach - Cantata BWV 12, ’Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen’

No.2: Coro - Weinen, Klagen... (from BISCD791)


Bach, J S: Mass in B minor, BWV232

rolyn Sampson (soprano I), Rachel Nicholls (soprano II), Robin Blaze (alto), Gerd Türk (tenor) & Peter Kooij (bass), Bach Collegium Japan, Masaaki Suzuki

Available Formats: SACD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC