The Missa Salisburgensis for 53 parts in eight separate choirs, often called "the Mahler 8th of the baroque," is by far the most grandiose work composed before the 18th century. Written (by an unnamed composer generally presumed to be Biber) for the 1,100th anniversary of the Archdiocese of Salzburg, it has extravagant scoring reflecting that city's enormous self-regard. This Mass is rarely performed or recorded, and probably not just because of logistical and financial constraints–the work can often seem tedious and overblown. The large number of parts and the reverberant acoustic of Salzburg Cathedral allowed for very little harmonic variety (virtually the entire Mass is in C major) or virtuoso fireworks; the music can make its effects only through variety of instrumental color and sheer massive sound. It is very much to the credit of Paul McCreesh, Reinhard Goebel, and their musicians that the Missa Salisburgensis sounds so engaging here: the grandeur is leavened with plenty of rhythmic snap, and some lighter moments sound tender and almost delicate. Unusually for McCreesh, there are no chants, prayers, or other trappings of a liturgical reconstruction; there are, however, three sumptuous instrumental sonatas and a motet included with the Mass. This may not be the most profound music of the 17th century, but it is surely among the most jubilant.
Having all of these works collected together is a real treasure. It is one of the most beautiful collections I've heard. 5 cd's of all of Bach's chamber music, exquisitely performed by the outstanding soloists of Musica Antiqua Koln. Reinhard Goebel's performance of the violin works is simply perfect. As I've said before, Bach's sonatas for violin and harpsichord have been in the shadows for too long, they deserve to be heard and this performance proves it. They are a delightful partnership between violin and harpsichord. The tempos are fairly brisk but the performance is so clearly articulated that the result is energetic and very rewarding.
"I would be very hard pressed to find another single recording of this high quality that so clearly demonstrates the musicality of the Bach family." ~American Record Guide
Reinhard Goebel founded Musica Antiqua Köln in 1973. The ensemble devoted itself to playing Baroque music on period instruments, with a particular penchant for playing neglected or overlooked repertoire. Many of their best albums have sold well without featuring music by well-known composers. These releases also appear to have boosted the (posthumous) careers of composers such as Heinichen, with their concerti album from 1993, and the Veracini Overture album from 1994. Goebel has not only shown courage in programming unconventional repertoire, but has also been known to take risks in his approach to relatively well-known works. For instance, his ensemble plays the last movement of Bach's third Brandenburg concerto at a then unrivaled, break-neck tempo. Furthermore, Goebel had sound musicological evidence that the piece should be played that way.
"…Musica Antiqua convey equal vitality and character to the two most striking rarities here. JCF Bach’s double concerto for fortepiano and viola appears as a prototype symphony with important solo interjections. Melodically unexceptional, it is nevertheless stylish in a jejune way. CPE Bach – the most iconoclastic of the sons – successfully combines the prevailing keyboard instruments of the day, harpsichord and fortepiano. Fingers fly with aplomb – and no little mischief – as one is left to ponder the impact of this last Bach generation on Mozart and Beethoven, with whom there were (and are) of course many significant connections. Goebel provides a historical wake-up call." ~Gramophone
If you like your Baroque music loud and luscious, then this is the disc for you. When you play it first, be aware that the two introductory pieces are not as loud as the later ones, so set your volume low to start off with!
McCreesh, Goebel and their crew have recreated the full pomp and atmosphere of the time (as far as we can tell). The recording is well-defined and, perhaps surprisingly, for a work of this scale, it does not deteriorate into a miasmic wash of sound. The directionality is very good, even on "ordinary" two-channel stereo.
"…some of the most important Baroque rediscoveries of recent years … [an] essential recording…" ~BBC MusicMag