This unique performance was filmed live on the day of the Bach 250th anniversary (an event which I commented) and is also a wonderful souvenir of that unique experience. The Mass in B minor offers little opportunity for visual spectacle but the musical performance is rich indeed. Brian Large makes the most out of the imposing interior of the ThomasKirche in Leipzig, which is strikingly different from Bach's time and is quite modern looking in its gaunt columns and empty interior.
The soloists are of high quality throughout, especially the wonderful Ruth Holton whose voice ethereally blends with the acoustic in a splendid way. I also warmed to Klaus Mertens whose alto voice is also very accomplished. The crucial climaxes such as the 'Gratias agimus tibi', 'Gloria', 'Credo' and the titanic 'Sanctus' are taken at fast speeds and the unerring momentum and propulsive movement of the score are almost unparalleled in their intensity. This is a fine performance and is now the prime recommendation on DVD for this glorious, timeless masterpiece.
Copyright © 2002, Gerald Fenech