La Cetra / Ensemble Orlando Fribourg / Laurent Gendre

Bach: Missae, BWV 234 & 235

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Though certainly not as popular as his monumental B minor Mass, Bach's four short masses are well-represented on disc by a number of superb performances, and this album of the A major and G minor masses (BWV 234 and 235) with Laurent Gendre conducting the Ensemble Orlando Fribourg and La Cetra Barockorchester Basel can take its place with the best digital recordings. Gendre leads light, lucid, luminous, and, above all, heartfelt accounts, and his Swiss forces deliver crisp, clear, colorful, and expressive readings. Captured in crystalline digital sound, these performances positively glow. Standout moments include the twin flutes intertwining in the A major Mass and the pair of plangent oboes sighing in the G minor Mass. Alex Potter's preternaturally pure countertenor and the magnificently named Miriam Feuersinger's (Fire-singer) sweetly tremulous soprano are very fine. In every movement, Gendre and his Swiss musicians seem as one with the letter and spirit of Bach's scores, and surely no greater praise is possible.

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