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Bach, Mass in B Minor, BWV 232: Soloists, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Chorus, Ton Koopman (conductor), Michael Gläser (choir) Herkulessaal, Munich 19.12.2007 (JFL)

Carolyn Sampson (soprano I)
Daniel Taylor (alto & soprano II)
Charles Daniels (tenor)
Klaus Mertens (bass)

Ton Koopman

By the time the Bavarian Radio Chorus delivered the Sanctus, this Ton Koopman directed performance had come all the way from perfunctory to explosive and rousing. At the second of three performances on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday before Christmas – broadcast live by Bavarian Public Radio – it took at least the duration of the Kyrie for Koopman to move the  reduced-size Bavarian Radio Symphony from a strangely foursquare and rigid reading to something doing true justice to the greatness that is the Mass in B-minor.

Already,  the Christe Eleison hinted at great things to come, largely because of the incomparable Carolyn Sampson who delivered her part with aplomb, ably accompanied by alto/countertenor Daniel Taylor who doubled as soprano II here.

Matters were starting to gel at around the Ladamus te and things were well on their way when – in the Domine Deus and alongside Sampson and the fine tenor Charles Daniels – Henrik Wiese proved that he is one of the foremost flutists (modern instruments for the reduced forces of the Bavarian Symphony Orchestra, of course) that any orchestra can count among its ranks. There was not a noise to be heard in the nearly filled Herkulessaal when the choir took to the Qui tollis peccata mundi, or when ‘the masses’ represented by the choir rose to the Cum Sancto Spiritu after the ‘Bullfrog quartet’ (horn, two bassoons and bass with continuo) that is the Quoniam tu solus Sanctus. Bass Klaus Mertens, one of the usual suspects in HIP Bach performances, delivered the Et in Spiritum Sanctum with gentle, unexaggerated nobility.

Henrik Wiese and Charles Daniels let go again in the Benedictus; Daniel Taylor capped an impressive performance with the Agnus Dei, even if the lowest notes on “peccata mundi” were a toil. Although I reckon that many audience members were inspired to their thunderous ovations for the choir by being related to members therein, the magnificent Bavarian Radio Chorus would have deserved and gotten an equal amount of appreciation from a neutral crowd as well – not just for the superb closing Dona nobis pacem.

Jens F. Laurson


Picture © Ton Koopman

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