Collegium Vocale 1704 / Collegium 1704 / Václav Luks

Bach: Mass in B minor

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Plenty of recordings of Bach's Mass in B minor, BWV 232, are on the market, and listeners can choose from among a variety of approaches performed on both historical and modern instruments. Unexpectedly, this reading from the Czech Republic, not a country with a particularly strong tradition of historical performances, really stands out. It might classify as a recording for those who like the sound of historical instruments but aren't enamored of the more radical approaches to the performance of Baroque music, and certainly not of the one-voice-per-part sort of performance mode that has in this case been dubbed the B minor madrigal. Conductor Václav Luks leads a choir of about 20 singers and a small orchestra, cultivating a natural, expressive approach to the text that even allows for a bit of tempo variation within each individual movement. Of course it takes a well-drilled group to carry this off, and the Collegium Vocale 1704 and Collegium 1704 orchestra rival anybody in their precision. The overall mood is warm, and it's almost as if hearing one of the opera-influenced Italian vocal performances that had become popular, but with the quiet pastoral scenes as the model rather than the fiery arias. The Incarnatus section, perhaps the last thing Bach finished, has rarely had the deep sense of mystery it does here. All six of the soloists, most or all of them Czech, fit the concept of the recording well with moderately sized, expressive performances. This is an absolutely lovely recording of the B minor mass, recommended to anybody looking for one, and Accent's studio sound is superb to boot.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Mass in B minor, BWV 232
1 10:20
2 4:36
3 2:29
4 1:36
5 5:10
6 4:04
7 2:16
8 5:22
9 2:53
10 4:18
11 4:02
12 3:49

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Mass in B minor, BWV 232
1 1:39
2 1:46
3 4:22
4 2:56
5 2:37
6 3:41
7 5:07
8 3:54
9 2:09
10 3:49
11 2:30
12 4:42
13 2:33
14 5:49
15 2:38
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