J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Mass in B Minor

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Herbert vonKarajan
Accompaniment/Orchestra:Berliner Philharmoniker
Soloists:Gundula Janowitz, soprano
Christa Ludwig, contralto
Peter Schreier, tenor
Robert Kerns, bariton
Karl Ridderbusch, bass
Thomas Brandis, violin
Gerd Seifer, horn
James Galway, Gunter Prill, flute
Robert Eliscu, Heinrich Kõrcher, Oboe d'amore
Gunter Piesk, Henning Trog, bassoon
Eberhard Finke, violincello
Rainer Zepperitz, double bass
Rudolf Scholz, organ
Helmuth Froschauer, chorus master, Wiener Singverein
Individual Works:Messe in h-moll BWV 232
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Deutsche Grammophon
Catalog Number:415 622-2
Year Released/Recorded:1974
Total Playing Time:126'07
Comments:Esko Mannisto said:

This is probably the same recording as DG catalog number 439 696-2. Overall this is a good performance (not excellent), but, incredibly, the tempo of the orchestra is often lagging that of the soloists or choir. One of the most disappointing examples is in the otherwise magnificient chorus "Et resurrexit tertia die secundum scripturas" in the Credo. Even the last chorus in Agnus Dei is botched. Christa Ludwig and Gundula Janowitz are excellent, as usual. Note, though, that the soprano alway sings in a duetto. I think Karl Ridderbusch does an adequate job in the bass arias for the purposes of the b minor mass. I won't comment on the Wiener Singverein, since my choral preference for Bach masses is always a boy choir due to the superb clarity of young sopranos. (Maybe it's because of going to all those Cantores Minores concerts in Helsinki while I was growing up.) If you just want an "adequate" recording of the Mass in b minor, you might want to buy this one, if the price is low (like it was for me), but if you want an excellent performance, look for something else.

Vlad Jockovic said:

The Mass in B Minor, one of the more popular and probably one of the best works by Bach is extrodinary. This recording, in my opinion is a very good rendetion by Von Karajan, again the German meastro conductor has taken this piece to high levels of granduar as he normally does with a lot of his other works, again, the orchestra is colorfull, actually powerful, in the Gloria sequence; the Nicene Creed is bold and(I would think St.Athanasious would approve)directive, again Von Karajan showing us his talant to make an orchestra go beyond its capabilities. Janowtiz does a fantastice job(listen to her Mozart renditions) in the piece. Overall the Mass is a great recording worth having in your Bach repotoire, again in different segments of the Mass, Bach demonstrates that he is one of the finest masters of the trumpet and orchestra/chours.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Esko Mannisto
  • Vlad Jockovic
Date First Submitted:04/13/1999