B Minor Mass (Queen’s Hall) – The Herald

The Herald, 21 June 2018 ★★★★

Will the days of big choral concerts of Bach’s B Minor Mass ever return to revival the chamber approach of historically-informed performance? Not if conductors like John Butt continue to produce revelatory recitals like this one… every combination of vocals and continuo playing flowed in seemingly effortless sequence… the instrumental ensemble was superb throughout, and as soulful a period band as you are ever likely to hear.

B Minor Mass (Wigmore Hall) – The Times

The Times, 25 June 2018 ★★★★

[John Butt] fields six “soloists” joined by four other singers to add lustre and body to the bigger setpieces. As they fall in and out of the textures, the sense that’s created is more of a communal celebration, a moment-by-moment experience of the Mass rather than the enactment of a mysterious rite. Butt, who directs from the harpsichord, works for a long time with the same forces and it shows in the easy rapport he has with his players and singers. For all the debates on historically informed performance, the most persuasive aspect of this concert was the sheer sense of joy. It was there in the moment when Butt pressed the accelerator and the ensemble soared into Gloria in excelsis Deo. It was also there as the singers moved from the desolation of Crucifixus etiam pro nobis to the blaze of salvation that is Et resurrexit.


B Minor Mass

The B Minor Mass is one of Bach’s greatest curiosities. A true piece of musical patchwork, this extraordinary amalgamation of arrangements, recomposed fragments and new ideas together spans more than 25 years of Bach’s career. And yet, Bach never heard it performed. Nor did he expect to – since it fits neither the Catholic or Protestant liturgy, its purpose remains tantalisingly elusive. But in its scale, ambition and dramatic, inexorable unfolding, the B Minor Mass remains one of his most monumental works, a remarkable testament from Bach’s final years.

Part of a Martin Randall Travel tour – The Johann Sebastian Bach Journey (please note that this event is not on sale to the general public).