BACH: Lutheran Masses, Vol. II – The Sixteen, Harry Christophers
Volume II completes The Sixteen’s mini-series and features Bach’s Lutheran Masses in G major, BWV 236 and A major, BWV 234 plus the Cantata, BWV 79, Gott der Herr ist Sonn’ und Schild. This cantata was written in Leipzig in 1725 for Reformation Day and parodies from it appear in both of the featured Masses.
Bach was a Lutheran church musician devoted to the composition of sacred music in German. He wrote more than 200 cantatas for the liturgy, most of them in Leipzig. Despite their name, the four Lutheran Masses feature almost no Lutheran material. Each of them sometimes referred to as Missa brevis, musically Bach made them up almost entirely of movements borrowed from his own cantatas but, while they are often overshadowed by the more famous Mass in B minor, their beauty is that they represent a choice of Bach’s finest cantata movements.
Despite their exquisite beauty, featuring splendid choruses and deeply moving arias, there are relatively few recordings of the Lutheran Masses. On this new collection just eight singers from The Sixteen perform them, which allows the beauty of the virtuosic vocal lines to be heard with absolute clarity.
"... a distinguished performance ... There are wonderful and musical performances: hear them if you can."
David Stancliffe - The Early Music Review No 160 - June 2014
’Editor Recommended - Vocal ’
Jonathan Freeman-Attwood - Gramophone magazine - June 2014
"... There are surely few other chamber ensembles that are capable of acheiving such equality of line between the vocal and the instrumental... All members of the Sixteen are equally at home as soloists and choral singers, but the coordination between soprano Juia Doyle and bas Eammonn Dougan in ’Gott, ach Gott’ stands out, down to individual flicks of vibrato. This is a very fine recording of these lesser-known works." ****
Nicholas Brown - Early Music Today magazine - June-August 2014
Claudio Bolzan - Musica magazine (Italy) - April 2014
Performance **** Recording ****
"... With scrupulous instrumental underpinning, a natural recorded sound, and Julia Doyle’s ravishing ’Qui tollis’, this is a worthy successor to Vol 1."
Paul Riley - BBC Music magazine - May 2014