J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Mass in B Minor

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Joshua Rifkin
Accompaniment/Orchestra:The Bach Ensemble
Soloists:Judith Nelson, Julianne Baird, sopranos
Jeffrey Dooley, contertenor
Frank Hoffmeister, tenor
Jan Oplach, bass
Individual Works:Missa (Kyrie, Gloria)
Symbolum Nicenum (Credo)
Sanctus, Osanna, Benedictus,Angus Dei,Dona Nobis Pacem
BWV 232
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Nonesuch
Catalog Number:7559-79563-2
Year Released/Recorded:Recorded and originally released: 1981
This reissue: 1999
Total Playing Time:106'29"
Comments:Mr. Fang-lin Hou said:

Dr. Rifkin's one voice (player) per part approach remains controversial, but the end result as sounded here is deeply satisfying. Serene and intimate, his recording is the anti-thesis (or antidote) to the grand and dramatic ways of John Eliot Gardiner.

Jan Hanford said:

A re-release of Joshua Rifkin's famous "one voice per part" recording of 1982. Although I tend to avoid religious works, I found the Mass to be gorgeous, particularly because it contains no recitatives which I especially don't care for in the Cantatas and Passions.

This version by Rifkin is, apparently, controversial because of his one voice per part interpretation. I'm not interested in HIP politics, so I judged it on whether it sounded good or not. It's wonderful. The result is a more medieval sound than the richer, full choral effect in other performances. I found the recording imtimate and lovely and am delighted to have now finally heard it. I would recommend owning it in addition to one of the traditional performances, since the effect of the solo voices is quite different.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Mr. Fang-lin Hou
And from the collection of Jan Hanford.
Date First Submitted:02/28/1997