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Lynne Truss, Nancy Elizabeth, Nicholas Royle, Irna Qureshi
Image for Bach's Greatest Enigma - The Mass in B minor

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Bach's Greatest Enigma - The Mass in B minor

Duration:
1 hour
First broadcast:
Sunday 13 March 2011

On April 10th 1859, a choral society in Leipzig, the Riedel-Verein, gave the probable premiere of a large-scale composition by Johann Sebastian Bach. Parts of it had been sung and played before but this is thought to have been the first performance of the whole thing, more than a century after Bach's death. The publisher of the first edition had proclaimed it as "the Greatest Work of Art of All Times and All Nations" and many people would agree with that assessment today, but it's still a musical and liturgical enigma. Why did a pious Protestant write a Catholic Mass? Was it meant to be performed all in one go? Catherine Bott explores Johann Sebastian Bach's greatest enigma: his Mass in B minor.

Music Played

6 items
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
  • Image for Johann Sebastian Bach

    Johann Sebastian Bach Kyrie from Mass in B minor

    Performers: Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir, Ton Koopman (conductor)

    ERATO, 4509 984782

  • Image for Johann Sebastian Bach

    Johann Sebastian Bach Gloria in excelsis; Et in terra pax; Gratias agimus tibi - from Mass in B minor

    Performers: Philharmonia Chorus & Orchestra, Otto Klemperer (conductor)

    TESTAMENT, SBT 1138

  • Image for Johann Sebastian Bach

    Johann Sebastian Bach Cantata No. 29 (1731) opening chorus – Wir Danken dir, Gott

    Performers: Collegium Vocale, Philippe Herreweghe (conductor)

    HARMONIA MUNDI, HMC 901690

  • Image for Johann Sebastian Bach

    Johann Sebastian Bach Incarnatus, Crucufixus, Ressurexit from Symbolum Nicenum (Credo) from Mass in B minor

    Performers: Arnold Schoenberg Choir, Concentus Musicus Wien, Nikolaus Harnoncourt (conductor)

    Teldec, 8.35716

  • Image for Johann Sebastian Bach

    Johann Sebastian Bach Confiteor; Et expecto; Sanctus from Mass in B minor

    Performers: Rias Kammerchor, Akademie fur Alte Musik, Berlin, René Jacobs (conductor)

    BERLIN CLASSICS, 0184012 BC

  • Image for Johann Sebastian Bach

    Johann Sebastian Bach Agnus Dei; Dona nobis npacem from Mass in B minor

    Performers: Rene Jacobs (alto in Agnus Dei), Collegium Musicum Van de Nederlandse Bachvereniging, La Petite Bande, Gustav Leonhardt (conductor)

    DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI, GD 77040

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