DEFINITIVE RECORDINGS
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH - Missae Breves BWV 233 & 236


JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH - Missae Breves BWV 233 & 236 - Ensemble Pygmalion - Raphael Pichon (Conductor) - 3760014191701 - Released: October 2010 - Alpha 170

This second release devoted to recording the four Missae Breves or Lutheran Masses by Johann Sebastian Bach, is just as much a wonderful achievement and a thing of beauty as is the first volume (Alpha 130), reviewed and listed on this site as a 'Definitive' recording. The ensemble Pygmalion under the direction of Raphael Pichon once again apply their magic to the music. They have a way of detailing every single voice or musical instrument clearly, but yet each and everyone of those many fine details combine to form a homogenous sound and unity of purpose rarely achieved. There is a constant underlying sense of song and joy in their delivery. Even the finely crafted instrumental parts that support the voices and provide the backbone of the musical discourse, are played here with a degree of perfection and level of musicianship so consummate, that if played out of context and without the vocal lines, would provide an engrossing listening experience.

Despite the fact that these masses by Bach are actually collages, or rather recycled older material from previous cantatas or other liturgical works, they still bear the unmistakable stamp of a musical genius. They are composed of both somber and uplifting segments, that never fail to captivate your attention with many instances of complex contrapuntal writing, and many moments where the vocal and instrumental parts work independently of each other, but at the same time feed off each other's energy.

The soloists in this recording, the soprano Eugénie Warnier, alto Terry Wey, tenor Emiliano Gonzales-Toro and bass Christian Immler all bring a dedication and sense of occasion to the performance, and once again the recording engineers at Alpha have produced a crisp and tangible sound that moves the music out of the speaker boxes, and spreads it all over the room. Very highly recommended!

Jean-Yves Duperron - November 2010