Bach - Mass in B Minor (2007)


The Netherlands Bach Society

Jos Van Veldhoven

FROM THE MOMENT THAT A DECISION was made to record Bach's Mass in b minor, it was clear tome that the scoring would have to be small-scale. After our successful and highly-praised recording of the St.John Passion in 2004-in which a small group of singcrs performed both the solo parts and the chorus parts there was really no way back. We had come to know a new kind of collaboration between instrumentalists and singers, which gave us an ideal foundation for the interpretation of Bach's music and led to deeply expressive performances. Together, we discovered a new definition for the word 'choir'. But at the same time, the Mass in b minor is a large-scale score: Bach, in his last completed work, demanded every possible performing force available to him. For example, in this unique and incomparable score, he used nearly every imaginable combination of voices and virtually the entire spectrum of instrumentation of his day. The enormous wealth of genres and structures is dazzling for the listener: timeless polyphony, fugues, canrus-firmus techniques, polychoral work, vocal and instrumental concern, concern for groups of instruments, concern grossi, osninani, solo arias and duets - in scorings from three to seven voices and in remarkably varied combinations-and choruses ranging from four to eight parts. It is certain that Bach never performed his masterpiece in complete form, and it remains unclear for what purpose or occasion he composed it. The beautiful autograph score remains a closed book in many respects: it contains hardly any tempo indications or dynamic signs. The movements are simply called Kyrie, Gloria, or Agnus Dci. All of the parts of the enormous score indicate one-on-a-part settings for instrumentalists or singers. Nowhere does Bach give suggestions for how to score the continuo. Is it written for soloists, or is Bach writing for a 'real' chorus? How large should the string groups be, and is variable scoring another option?

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The Netherlands Bach Society

Founded in 1921, The Netherlands Bach Society is the oldest Early Music ensemble in the Netherlands, and possibly in the whole world. Yet along with the musicians, its artistic director Jos van Veldhoven is still continually in search of contemporary ways of presenting this music, whether it be the traditional performances of the St. Matthew Passion in Naarden, other works by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) or music by his predecessors, successors, contemporaries and fellow spirits.

The programmes are often compiled in an original way and thus give a refreshing view of the various musical styles from Schütz/Monteverdi to Haydn/Mozart, as well as of the central composer Bach himself. The flexibility of the ensemble makes it possible to perform works from the secular and sacred repertoires in a great variety of combinations of musicians. In the concerts, top priority is given to beauty, emotion, quality and authentic experience.

For a long time now, the activities of The Netherlands Bach Society have not been restricted to Naarden or Het Gooi, in the Netherlands. They are attracting growing national and international attention from large concert halls and important music festivals, and the ensemble increasingly plays the honourable role of cultural ambassador.

Besides working with principal conductor Jos van Veldhoven, The Netherlands Bach Society also performs with leading early music specialists from the Netherlands and abroad, such as Rinaldo Alessandrini, Peter Dijkstra, Richard Egarr, Gustav Leonhardt, Paul McCreesh, Lars Ulrik Mortensen and Masaaki Suzuki.

In order to reinforce the authentic experience, the concerts are supported where necessary by fringe programming, including introductions, workshops, exhibitions and book publications. Further emphasis is provided by the educational projects, which have also received several awards (e.g. Euro Media Award and the Classical Music Award from the Dutch Association of Theatres and Concert Halls (VSCD)).

The Netherlands Bach Society and Jos van Veldhoven have recorded several CDs for Channel Classics, including the Great Organ Mass with the organist Leo van Doeselaar and Bach's St. Matthew Passion. Illustrated editions of the Christmas Oratorio, the St. John Passion and the Mass in B minor have been published in collaboration with Museum Catharijneconvent.

Jos Van Veldhoven

Jos van Veldhoven studied musicology at Utrecht University, and choral and orchestral conducting at the Royal Conservatory in TheHague. He has been artistic director of TheNetherlands Bach Society since 1983, in which capacity he regularly directs performances at home and abroad of the major works of JohannSebastian Bach, his predecessors and contemporaries.Van Veldhoven also directs the UtrechtsBarok Consort, which he founded in 1976. With these ensembles he has made a great number of national and international radio, tv and cd The Netherlands Bach Society recordings, and has appeared in festivals in theNetherlands, Europe, the United States and Japan.Jos van Veldhoven is a frequent guest conductor with Dutch and foreign orchestras, including DasOrchester der Beethovenhalle Bonn, The TokyoPhilharmonic Orchestra, the Robert Schumann Philharmonie, the Essener Philharmoniker, theBrabant Orchestra and the Limburg SymphonyOrchestra. Since 2001 he has collaborated with director Dietrich Hilsdorf on a cycle of stage dHandel oratorios at the opera houses of Bonn,Chemnitz and Essen.Jos van Veldhoven has attracted frequent attention with performances of newly discovered repertoire within the realm of early music, including noteworthy performances of oratorios by Telemann and Graun, Vespers by Gastoldi,reconstructions of Bach’s St Mark Passion, theso-called Köthener Trauer-Music and many unknown seventeenth-century dialogues. VanVeldhoven has conducted many contemporary premieres of Baroque operas by composers including Mattheson, Keiser, Andrea, Bononcini,Legrenzi, Conti and Scarlatti.Jos van Veldhoven is professor of choral conducting at the Amsterdam Conservatory and theRoyal Conservatory in The Hague. In 2007 he was appointed Knight of the Order of the NetherlandsLion for his pioneering services to early music.

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Bach - Mass in B Minor (2007)


The Netherlands Bach Society

    Kwadratuur (Belgium)

Jos van Veldhoven kiest een uiterst intieme aanpak die dicht bij het solistische klankbeeld aansluit. ... Een verbluffende rijkdom aan kleuren, intieme duetten of bespiegelende solo-aria's passeren de revue. ...De kleine vocale en instrumentale bezetting zorgt ervoor dat de harmonische details uitermate natuurlijk naar boven komen en dat het vaak doorwrochte en polyfone web opvallend transparant klinkt. (...) een wondermooie opname. Niet te missen!!!


A honest account whose special moments are lifted by thrilling sound van Veldhoven's Bach is uncomplicated in its often touching naturalness Johannette Zomer sings with poise and colour

    Classic Fm

This is a wonderful exuberant performance, packaged with a lavish illustratied hardback.

    The Observer

Another handsome boxed set, with a plush book offering text, history and much more, brings the third in Channel Classics' outstanding series in collaboration with the Netherlands Bach Society: the B minor mass, just in time for Easter. Dutch soprano Johannette Zomer leads a fine team of soloists with the society singers under their eminence grise, Jos van Veldhoven, in an ethereal version of this magnificent work, recorded with crystal clarity. Every strand of Bach's long musical life went into this last and largest-scale of his masterworks.

    Jens F. Laurson

The momentum of Veldhoven is impeccable, the playing of his band, the Netherlands Bach Society Baroque Orchestra, excellent, the featured instrumentalists very fine and sometimes perfect. () Even with smallish forces, the sound and impact is tremendous. Ultimate splendor..." -

    Audiophile Audition

the sound on this new reading is absolutely sterling, recorded at the Waalse Kerk in Amsterdam, a venue with delightfully apt acoustics and superb (and controlled) resonance. The spatial manoeuvring in this recording works beautifully, and I cannot imagine it done better. (...) (...) easy to believe this recording to be very close to what Bach may have heard himself. There are five soloists with a choir of ten (no one-to-a-part stuff here, thank goodness), and the work comes off much more colorful than usually presented. Tempos are again mainstream contemporary, but no nonsensical excesses are given in any aspect of the reading. (...) (...) listening to it has been an absolute pleasure. Buy it, and you are set for life!

    Haagse Post

Van Bach krijg je nooit genoeg, zeker niet als het een meesterwerk als de Hohe Messe betreft. Jos van Veldhoven presenteert bij De Nederlandse Bachvereniging een glasheldere uitvoering. Het betreft een lichtgewicht versie waarbij de solisten onderdeel zijn van een koor van tien vocalisten. Aan dramatiek en spanning ontbreekt het ondanks al die lichtheid niet. Er wordt fenomenaal gezongen door onder anderen Johannette Zomer, counter-tenor Matthew White en bas Peter Harvey. Zelfs voor het oog is deze Bach aantrekkelijk. Het betreft namelijk de derde cd die de Bachvereniging samen met het Utrechtse Museum Catharijneconvent uitbrengt. Het boekje is fraai verzorgd en de cd is verpakt in de open sollicitatiebrief die de oude Bach ooit aan de Keurvorst van Saksen schreef.


(...) in meerdere opzichten een fantastisch werk, is een schitterende catalogus van hoogtepunten (...) Trouw () het resultaat is een transparantie die in deze complexe, vaak veelstemmige muziek alles hoorbaar maakt, een verheffende ervaring van onwaarschijnlijke schoonheid


uit de insect-achtige Bachbenadering van Jos van Veldhoven komt Bach's rijkdom aan vormen en expressiemiddelen onverhuld naar voren. Dat Bach soms teruggrijpt op oeroude technieken, en dan weer middelen inzet van futuristische allure, zoals in de harmonische zweving van het 'Confiteor', wordt hier belicht, ipv schuil te gaan achter dekens van klank. De zangers doen prachtig werk!

    Gereformeerd Kerkblad

Deze uitvoering staat op grote hoogte, sober en indringend met zorgvuldig gekozen solisten, zondermeer.

de opname klinkt prachtig helder, met een goede balans, homogeniteit en dieptewerking. De warme ruime akoestische ambiance van de Amsterdamse Waalse Kerk suggereert ook dat het ensemble groter is dan in werkelijkheid. (...)

    Bayerische Rundfunks

wieder einmal ein kleines Gesamtkunstwerk geschaffen wurde, das auch durch sein umfangreiches, bibliophil aufgemachtes booklet als solches gekennzeichnet ist. (...)


Jos van Veldhoven whlt seine Tempi ausgezeichnet, schpft seinen erstklassigen Ausfhrenden aus dem Vollen und nutzt dieses reiche Angebot an Klangfarben geschickt aus.


Een opname die niemand kan laten liggen, al was het maar vanwege het andermaal schitterend vormgegeven boekje met foto's van religieuze schilderijen en lithurgische objecten (...) (...) een uniek transparante Bach!!! Parool Werkelijk fantastisch, in zowel uitvoering en opname als uitgave.


Vernuft en muzikale diepte.

    Tijdschrift Oude Muziek

een religieus getinte beleving van Bachs passie muziek zonder solistische aandachttrekkerij!! En die opzet slaagt nu, gek genoeg in een van de meest megalomane werken van Bach, wonderwel.()

Van Veldhoven hat einen ganz radikalen Weg eingeschlagen. Er besetzt solistisch. Kompromisslos im Orchester, wo jede Stimme von nur einem Instrument gespielt wird. Fast solistisch im Chor: die derart stndig beschftigten Solisten werden in den Chorstzen von sogenannten Ripienisten verstrkt. Trotzdem bleibt ein sehr nchterner, puristischer Gesamteindruck. Veldhoven macht aus der Johannespassion Kammermusik total, ein hchst intimes Stck, das sich gleichsam von Mensch zu Mensch mitteilt. Auch aus den Chren sprechen Individuen, die sich jeder fr sich von den Ereignissen der Passion betroffen zeigen. Gewiss keine Johannespassion fr Einsteiger. Dafr eine fr Kenner, die wissen wollen, was in letzter Konsequenz in diesem grandiosen Werk steckt.

Bach - Mass in B Minor (2007)


The Netherlands Bach Society

Cables: van den Hul
Digital Converters: Meitner DSD AD/DA
Mastering Engineer: Jared Sacks
Mastering Equipment: B+W 803 diamond series
Microphones: Bruel & Kjaer, Schoeps
Mixing Board: Rens Heijnis custom made
Producer: Jared Sacks
Recording Engineer: Jared Sacks
Recording location: Eindhoven Holland
Recording Software: Pyramix
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD64
Speakers: Audiolab Holland

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25007: Bach - Mass in B Minor
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Kyrie eleison
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Christe eleison
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Kyrie eleison
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Gloria in excelsis
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Laudamus te
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Credo in unum Deum
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