Magazine article Gramophone

Eight Singers from the Sixteen for Bach's 'Borrowed' Masses

Magazine article Gramophone

Eight Singers from the Sixteen for Bach's 'Borrowed' Masses

Article excerpt

JS Bach

'Lutheran Masses, Vol V

Masses--BWV233; BWV235. Cantata No 102,

'Herr, deine Augen sehen nach dem Glauben!'

The Sixteen / Harry Christophers

Coro [F] COR16115 (74' x DDD x T/t)

Like the Christmas Oratorio, Bach's four settings of the Kyrie and Gloria for the Lutheran liturgy are largely 'parodied' from existing works. Puritanical 19th-century scholars threw up their hands. But as a supremely practical musician, Bach saw a more durable home for music whose performance would necessarily be limited. For the noble Kyrie of the F major Mass he adapted a much earlier Kyrie setting. Elsewhere he parodied assorted cantata movements, carefully adapting them to the Mass texts. If the minor mode slightly mutes the jubilation of the G minor Mass's 'Gloria in excelsis Deo' (how many other minor-mode Glorias can you think of?), both Masses offer a fund of glorious music.

Harry Christophers shrewdly pairs two of the Masses with Cantata No 102--Lutheranism at its most self-laceratingly penitential--which Bach drew on for the Kyrie of the G minor Mass and the 'Qui folks' and 'Quoniam' of the F major. …

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