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Bach Missae BWV 235, BWV 234

Collegium Vocale, Ghent record Bach Masses with Philippe Herreweghe, Virgin Veritas (p) 1990 There is a lot of mystery around Bach's lesser-known Latin masses. Bach, known for his cantatas for use in Leipzig at St. Thomas' are known, so why was Bach writing more conservative works? These were written around the same time as his more famous B-minor mass. The notes to this recording offers some insight, but no definite reasons. Bach Masses - Herreweghe This recording by the Collegium Vocale favors a large chorus over the orchestra. The recording was made in 1989, and was made in a favorable acoustic. While I would prefer a stronger presence of orchestra, it does maintain a warm sound. Soloists Mellon, Lesne, Pregardien, and Kooy offer good readings in the solo-sections of the gloria in each of the two masses. While this is church music, I felt certain tracks could have used more "push" for tempo. The most successful tracks for soloists are those for alto, Lesne. His voice seems to soar in the recording space, making for a beautiful sound. Yet, more detail from the orchestra would have been welcome, and more push and pull with time. Perhaps it was the time period of the recording that makes the presentation come across as "just-so" tidy and perfect. The dynamics in soloists like Lesne could be equally played-out by instrumental soloists. I'm suggesting Herreweghe needed to treat the orchestral melodies like sung ones. In a few spots, the violins playing in unison aren't quite all in agreement of pitch. This recording presents some of Bach's better writing in the unfamiliar guise of a Lutheran Latin mass setting. There is much to admire here, but not without a few reservations. Bringing the orchestra more forward in the recording, and pushing tempo in places would have made it all the more rewarding.

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