horizontal line

It’s 30 years since Gardiner’s previous recording of Bach’s B minor Mass. That fine account has held its place in an overcrowded market, marked by excellent orchestral playing, outstanding choral singing and a roster of international soloists. But what has proved to be Gardiner’s life-long journey with Bach was, in 1985, incomplete: the conductor’s understanding of the composer, his music, inner life and religious convictions, has developed in the intervening three decades, not least as a result of the millennial cantata pilgrimage; and that understanding shows in this splendid new recording. Gardiner and his forces are ruthless in their determination never to settle for anything less than best. Three decades on, aspects of the interpretation have altered – the Crucifixus, for example, now sounds close to angry in its delivery – and Gardiner seems content with tempi that are slightly less hectic and thrusting in the joyous choruses yet remain just as uplifting in effect. As is his habit these days, he favours members of the Monteverdi Choir stepping out for solo numbers rather than engaging star names. This reaps several benefits, though occasionally some of the soloists can sound a touch gauche. But this is a very minor quibble when the overall effect is superb and Gardiner’s view of the work an impressive whole. While some might consider Gardiner’s account over-interpreted, for this reviewer the results are near-perfection. A B minor not to be missed – I’d add another star if the editor would let me!

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica

   Read full review   

To continue reading, please upgrade to a premium account. You will have immediate full access.

Read more classical music reviews online here:

Choir & Organ, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing