Bruckner Sacred Choral Works
''What seraphic music. It must be Bruckner'', remarked a friend who entered the room as I was playing this recording. I cannot recommend this mid-price four-disc set too highly, both as performances and recordings. Seraphic is the word. Bruckner's three settings of the Mass are enough in themselves to convert the heathen. I cannot possibly decide which of them I like most, though my head tells me that No. 2 in E minor, with its wind-only accompaniment, is the greatest. What is obvious is that they are the work of a master of choral music, who knew infallibly what effects he wished to create and how to create them, who had the acoustics of a cathedral inbuilt into his notes as he put them on paper and who can rightly be compared with Palestrina in the purity and emotional fervour of his art.
The recordings were made between 1963 and 1972 and come now as a wonderful memorial tribute to Eugen Jochum. His conducting of Bruckner's symphonies was always admired but he had rivals there who could provide alternative routes to the towering peaks. I cannot believe he has a peer in this sacred music. The transfers to CD are magnificent and allow us to hear every nuance of the singing of the Bavarian Radio Chorus in the Masses and 10 motets and of the Deutsche Oper Chorus in the
If you play the beginning of the Mass in F minor you will obtain an immediate impression of how good these performances are and of the intensely moving nature of the music. Here is the symphonic Bruckner in all his heaven-scaling rapture but without some of the repetitious features which deter some listeners (though not those who are fully prepared to enter his world). The soloists are good in all the performances but Maria Stader and Kim Borg excel in this Mass. Stader is superb too, in the really astounding
Not least of the excellence of this generous issue are the ten short motets, most of which will, I suspect, be unfamiliar to many listeners. Each one is a gem of its kind—a most touching Ave Maria, for instance, a moving Pange lingua and an elaborate Ecce sacerdos magnus. The presentation of the discs by DG is first class, with all the texts in translation and a most illuminating essay.'