DEFINITIVE RECORDINGS
JEAN SEBASTIAN BACH - MISSAE BREVES BWV 234 & 235


JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH - MISSAE BREVES BWV 234 & 235 - ENSEMBLE PYGMALION - RAPHAEL PICHON (Conductor) - ALPHA 130

The magnificent music that makes up these short Lutheran Masses is actually recycled material from Bach's own sacred works, mostly taken from his splendid cantatas. His workload around that time was very hectic. He was music director at four churches, for which he had to compose motets, passions, many cantatas and more, all the while writing organ music, instrumental pieces for his own students and original works for orchestral groups. Therefore, due to time constraints, he would occasionally re-use and re-work some of his own existing music and create a completely new liturgical work to be used when needed. These two Masses are a great example of just that. Only a few minutes into each Kyrie will make you realize that no one has ever been able to compose perfectly balanced, mind boggling counterpoint like Johann Sebastian Bach.

Pygmalion, a newly created ensemble, made up of 20 singers and 19 instrumentalists, were chosen to record these works because of their liveliness, enthusiasm, clarity, and deep understanding of this music. The four vocal soloists, Eugenie Warnier, Magid El-Bushra, Sidney Fierro and Emiliano Gonzalez-Toro, are all very well suited for this music, bringing passion and joy to every part.

Alpha have produced yet another excellent recording. The music jumps out of the speakers with a detailed clarity rarely achieved quite like this. The singing is bold, the playing crisp and nimble, all captured so realistically that you can almost smell the incense inside the church. The recording sessions took place in Paris, in October 2007, and the cd was released in August 2008. Every detail in the production line of a new recording at Alpha is achieved with the utmost attention to quality. If you already have Alpha recordings, you know what I mean. If you don't, start with this one, and I am sure you will want to hear more from this great little label.

Jean-Yves Duperron