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Bach/Rifkin Mass in B minor

John Butt director
Susan Hamilton soprano
Cecilia Osmond soprano
Margot Oitzinger alto
Thomas Hobbs tenor
Matthew Brook bass

St John's Smith Square 17 May 2010 & CD launch LINN CKD 354

For those of us brought up on massive choral/orchestral versions, this was an unusual B minor Mass.

Joshua Rifkin has researched performance practice of Bach's time thoroughly, and his findings are published in the Breitkopf & Hartel Edition of 2006, recorded here for the first time, and after "ever lively discussion" with the conductor.

It sounded well at St John's, though balance and clarity varied in different parts of the Church. Those who missed it (being not part of the concurrent Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music, the audience was not large) may be reassured that the recording (Edinburgh, 2009) is impeccable, and as welcome as this team's marvellous Messiah.

The work may not have been intended to be performed as a whole (certainly not in concert) and it makes for a long and strenuous evening's listening. The CDs give the option of taking it in parts, and the thorough documentation is fascinating to study. A very distinguished production, up to Linn's ever reliable standard; definitely one to collect alongside likely others in your collection.

Peter Grahame Woolf