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Good Friday Concert: Bach – Mass in B Minor – John Eliot Gardiner




This work is the ultimate piece to celebrate the Resurrection, but some recordings of Bach’s B minor mass seem to simply throw everything at the fortissimo passages and muddy the texture. Forceful yes, clear no.

John Eliot Gardiner manages the balance of precision with raw power just brilliantly. He creates the most exquisitely delicate orchestral textures, contrasting with explosive bursts of energy but never lacking in clarity. Every part is in perfect balance and the ensemble skills are stunning.

It’s one of those very rare recordings where a large ensemble sound like they are totally inside the piece rather than just reacting to a histrionic beat being thrashed out in front of them by some overly physical conductor. There are some recordings which are similarly neat but often they go too far and sound mannered, with nothing spontaneous about the performance.

On this recording a particular highlight is when choir and orchestra launch into ‘Et resurrexit’. It is electric, and you can hear absolutely every detail. Hearing this on Easter Day itself would be the perfect way to end Lent and celebrate the Resurrection.



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