One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,514 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Plain text for smartphones & printers

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat



Recordings of the Month


From Ocean’s Floor


Conner Riddle Songs

Rodzinski Sibelius

Of Innocence and Experience


Symphonies 1, 2, 3

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Mass in B minor, BWV 232 (1748/49) [114:42]
Lydia Teuscher, Ida Falk Winland (soprano); Tim Mead (counter-tenor); Samuel Boden (tenor); Neal Davies (bass)
Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen
rec. 6-8 October 2013, St. Mary’s Church, Tetbury, Gloucestershire
HYPERION CDA68051/2 [57:06 + 57:37]

My first acquaintance with the B minor Mass was the early 1970s recording by Karajan on DG, which I purchased on LP when newly released. Later I discovered the Klemperer version from 1967. Over recent years my tastes have changed, influenced to a large extent by the stunning mid-eighties John Eliot Gardiner Archiv production. I have now come to disavow the monumental monoliths in favour of scaled-down ‘period’ and ‘historically-informed’ readings.

In order to evoke an atmosphere of spontaneity and generate a feeling of music being created on the wing, the performance here was recorded live, with a number of patching sessions, at the 2013 Tetbury Festival.

Cohen corrals moderate-sized forces with a choir of twenty, employing four to a part, and five soloists. He uses a counter-tenor for the alto parts rather than a female alto. Whilst Arcangelo are at home with both period and modern instruments, Cohen opts for the middle ground, directing from the harpsichord, and providing a discreet and well-managed continuo part. In an interview with David Smith, he sets out his strategy: ‘… I chose to do this reading with rich sounding and majestic choral forces. Sometimes the period performance readings tend to be deliciously light and the more 'time-hallowed performances of the old school' …. stoically grand. The music contains at the same time both these aspects.’

The sedate opening of the Kyrie allows Cohen the freedom cumulatively to build up the five-part extended fugue. The effect is magical. The Christe eleison is eloquently sung by the two sopranos Lydia Teuscher and Ida Falk Winland.

The Gloria opens in true majesty, in a radiant burst of colour, where the brass boldly ring out. Cohen sets an exhilarating pace. I love the way there is no congestion, but each line is clearly audible. In the Domine Deus, a luminous delicacy is accomplished with the interweaving of voices and flute. The superlative singing of Lydia Teuscher and Samuel Boden is sensitively sculpted and admirably phrased. In Qui sedes ad dextram Patris, I can perfectly understand why Cohen chose Tim Mead, his particular timbre and innate musicality are perfectly suited to this work. Neal Davies delivers a characterful and powerful Quoniam tu solus sanctus, ably supported by horn and bassoon. The Gloria ends with an invigorating Cum Sancto Spiritu.

A delicately articulated accompaniment to the opening of the Credo gives it a sense of forward momentum. In Et in unum Dominum, Winland and Mead’s voices complement each other admirably. The contrast between the anguished and doleful Crucifixus and the jubilant Et resurrexit has never been so dramatically realized. The Et expecto resurrectionem brings the Credo to a thrilling close.

The Sanctus, a six-part chorus, is a spirited account, vitally accompanied by trumpets and drums, with the Osanna potent and engaging. In the Agnus Dei, once again, Tim Mead’s plangent timbre seems appropriate.

On the evidence, all concerned acquit themselves admirably. Tempi are well-judged. The recorded sound is first class, with the balance between soloists and orchestra ideal. The resonant, spacious and airy acoustic of St. Mary’s Church, Tetbury positively adds to the success of the mix. Detail is audible and the polyphonic strands of the score can be clearly discerned. Full Latin texts with English, French and German translations are provided. Richard Wigmore contributes scholarly annotations, which equip the listener with background and context.

Arcangelo and Cohen have several other much lauded titles on the Hyperion label which, on the strength of this set, I will no doubt investigate. There are numerous recordings of BWV 232 available, and Cohen and co are up there with my favourites – Gardiner, Suzuki, Rifkin and Herreweghe. All in all, this is a very desirable release of a performance that couldn’t be bettered.

Stephen Greenbank