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These two Masses work well together on disc or in concert: both share similar forces – choir (double choir for Bruckner) with wind accompaniment, and no soloists. In Bruckner’s case, the use of wind instruments was a practical one, as the first performance venue was to be outdoors. Despite the practicalities of this solution, the use of wind instruments in sung Masses in Austria had a long tradition pre-Bruckner, where they filled in any missing or inadequately represented vocal lines. From the opening Kyrie, the Rundfundchor Berlin show themselves well matched to Bruckner’s unfolding lines and suspensions, as well as being quite the equal of his more dramatic writing, though just occasionally there are signs of vocal strain in the top sopranos. Gijs Leenaars and his forces are just as much at home in Stravinsky’s austere 1948 Mass – ‘cold music that will appeal directly to the spirit’ was how the composer described his setting. Leenaars’s reading is beautifully captured in this recording, with a perfect balance between choir and wind ensemble.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica


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