One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
(1733) [54:26]
Rotraud Hansmann (soprano); Emiko Iiyama (soprano); Helen Watts (contralto); Kurt Equiliz (tenor); Max van Egmond (bass)
Wiener Sängerknaben, Chorus Viennensis Japan/Hans Gillesberger
Concentus Musicus Wien/Nikolaus Harnoncourt

rec. Vienna (?), 1972 (?)
Experience Classicsonline

Why do we need a recording of Bach’s Missa

The Missa (BWV 232a) is that first part of what would later become the Mass in B minor. Composed in 1733, it consists of the Kyrie and the Gloria - half of which is a reworking of Cantata BWV 191. He dedicated it to the Elector of Saxony as part of an ultimately unsuccessful application for the job of Saxon Court Capellmeister in Dresden. When Nikolaus Harnoncourt recorded the Missa as a stand-alone piece in 1972, that was far from common knowledge: not until the 1950s did scholars propose that the Mass in B minor wasn’t a monolith. Public perception of the works as a musical quilt set in only much later. As much as anything else, Harnoncourt’s recording was a statement calling on the listener to perceive Bach in new ways. There are no changes from the original to the first half of the latter gallimaufry-masterpiece. In the circumstances you might as well experience the Missa by simply not listening to CD 2 of your favorite recording of the B minor Mass. 

Why, then, do we need a recording of Bach’s Missa? Completism, that’s why. Good enough a reason for me. If not for you, there is no reason to read on. Harnoncourt’s recording offers nothing - except the sweet aural scents of nostalgia for those early “Das Alte Werk” releases - that will transcend the limited initial appeal the Missa has in an age burgeoning with great ‘complete’ recordings. The vibrato of the female voices (Rotraud Hansmann, Emiko Iiyama, Helen Watts) isn’t at all in conformity with our current understanding and expectations of historically informed performances. The playing of the orchestra, especially the brass, conforms only to our stereotypical negative expectations. HIP orchestras - Harnoncourt’s Concentus Musicus Wien not the least - have come a long, long way since those days. I have always liked Harnoncourt’s idea of using a boys’ choir - one of the best available, at that. Unfortunately the idea is nicer than the intonation-ambiguous result. 

Those not reared on Harnoncourt - or not interested in the Missa-only - but curious about his seminal recordings for Teldec’s Das Alte Werk are better off with a recording of a favorite cantata from his cycle. The rest can safely stick to their Mass in B minor of choice - mine currently being Karl Richter, Jos van Veldhoven, and Marc Minkowski. 

Jens F. Laurson 


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.