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Bruckner’s D and F minor Masses are romantic concert pieces conceived on the grand scale, which paved the way for his symphonies, as did his exuberant Te Deum. The performance of the D minor under Nicol Matt was recorded in Christchurch Berlin in 2003, while the other works under Heinz Rögner in Württemberg in 1988. There is little to choose between the two choirs although I did prefer the soloists with the Berlin Radio Choir, particularly the fine tenor voice of Peter-Jürgen Schmidt. The exception to these lyrical and dramatic Masses is the one in E Minor, given the title ‘vocal mass’ and scored for 15 woodwind and brass instruments. Written for an open-air event, this is an intense work which introduces more dissonance than previously found in Bruckner’s music. This might have benefited from a more scaled-down performance, not so prevalent in 1988, despite the fact that the scoring is weighted toward the brass. Both directors bring out the lyricism and joy in these works, making the most of the orchestration.

SHIRLEY RATCLIFFE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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