HD-Vinyl 24/96 (Archiv) Johann Sebastian Bach – Mass in H-Minor (Richter)

All thanks for this masterwork go to Jean-Luc
Bach’s majestically beautiful, deeply moving Mass in B Minor began life during the early months of 1733 as a 2 movement five-part Missa containing only a Kyrie and Gloria; often called “a Lutheran Mass” because Luther had reduced the Mass Ordinary to just those 2 sections for the Protestant service. The Missa was intended to enhance his authority with the Leipzig town council with whom he had been engaged in a ten-year long cold war regarding his conditions of service and his method of conducting his duties (not least of which was the onerous responsibility for teaching Latin, a task Bach despised and relegated to others). These 2 movements lasted nearly an hour in performance. Thus, they were far too long for performance in Protestant Leipzig but they were perfect for a festival service performance at the Catholic court in Dresden. There is no evidence …

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Münchener Bach-Chor,
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Hertha Töpper, Ernst Haefliger
Orchestra: Münchener Bach-Orchester
Conductor: Karl Richter
Vinyl 1961
Number of discs: 3
Format: Flac
Label: Archiv
DR 11
Size: 2.53 GB
Scan: yes
Server: FF

(Review on Amazon is about the DVD of the Mass H minor)

… There is no evidence they were performed there, however. Bach, ever the practical composer, later extracted 3 movements from the Gloria for a Latin cantata BWV 191, probably first performed Christmas Day 1745. Still later, and for no specific purpose in mind, Bach conceived the idea of expanding his 2 movement Missa into a full Mass. He added a six-part Sanctus that he had written for the Christmas Day service in Leipzig in 1724 for the third section. He expanded the Credo turning it into the much longer Nicene Creed and created a vast second section. Lastly, he combined the Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei and Dona nobis pacem to create a fourth section. By creating the Mass via this long-term accretion, many abrupt changes in choral and instrumental writing characterize the piece. Resultant textures can sound somewhat odd. The bass varies from section-to-section; Bach sometimes indicates the double bass, other times the organ and cello. Choral textures vary from four to five to six then eight-part writing. In the Benedictus it is unclear as to what instrument should play the solos. Ultimately, the music is not new but an expertly chosen combination of reused sacred and secular cantatas and instrumental concertos.

More importantly, perhaps, the resultant “Catholic” portions of the B Minor Mass make it unsuitable for a Protestant service. And the Mass is liturgically unacceptable to the Church of Rome. The unavoidable conclusion is that Bach never intended this Mass to be performed at all. He wrote it through some inner compulsion because he COULD write it, perhaps as some vast compendium of knowledge he meant to bequeath to the world. A great summation of his life-long involvement in Church music. A “specimen book” or teaching tool meant to be studied free from all practical issues as a pure example of musical thought, a contemplative masterpiece. In this, Bach’s motives are reminiscent of those that drove Mozart to create his final 3 symphonies over six weeks during the Summer of 1788; symphonies also created for no known practical consideration. The pressure on genius is to create and to do so for it’s own sake!

Karl Richter provides a lovely interpretation of the Mass. Using modern instruments but some of the nascent “authentic performance practices”, he also incorporates the choral tradition of the great oratorio choirs in upper Germany in his disposition of vocal forces. His disposition of instrumental forces are likewise idiosyncratic. What Richter creates is a unique and hybrid Bach performance: neither traditional nor “period performance” but highly musical, deeply devotional, immensely entertaining and often thrilling. His Munchener Bach-Chor and Orchester are fine performers. They sound quite good, though they will not supplant, for example, John Eliot Gardiner’s splendid recording of the B Minor Mass on Arkiv more than 20 years ago. Rather, this performance will occupy a niche. Bach’s music is so great that many interpretations can coexist. In that light, this performance recorded 12-28 September 1969 in the Klosterkirche in Diessen am Ammersee can easily be recommended.

Richter’s soloists are splendid, including soprano Gundula Janowitz, contralto Hertha Topper, tenor Horst Laubenthal and bass Herman Prey. This DVD is worthwhile for their performance alone. The singing is old-school in many ways, but beautiful. We are not used to such emotional Bach these days. Perhaps, a more emotive style will eventually merge with the somewhat colder and analytical period performance style, creating Bach much closer to the real devotional Baroque sound. I’ve always believed that what Bach heard in his day was more emotional than what today’s period performers have been presenting, a depth of feeling operatic in nature. Perhaps that is why Bach never felt compelled to compose opera: his vocal scores were already as dramatically and emotionally charged as the finest operas of his day! Religious belief had an even greater immediacy and force in those long-ago days of ever-present death. This hypothetical performance hybrid is similar to Richter’s style. His performance of the B Minor Mass is idiosyncratic in it’s sound, in his choice of choral voices and in the nature of his interpretation. Nonetheless, it is musical and entertaining. I will return to listen to it often.

Analyzed Folder: /96kJSB – Mass H-Minor – Richter
DR         Peak       RMS        Filename
DR11       -0.29 dB   -16.88 dB  sideA.aif
DR10       -1.10 dB   -15.57 dB  sideB.aif
DR13       -1.01 dB   -19.08 dB  sideC.aif
DR11       -0.82 dB   -16.71 dB  sideD.aif
DR11       -0.83 dB   -16.06 dB  sideE.aif
DR11       -0.73 dB   -16.71 dB  sideF.aif
Number of Files: 6
Official DR Value: DR11


  • Bass Vocals – Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Kieth Engen
  • Bassoon – Fritz Henker, Karl Kolbin
  • Cello – Oswald Uhl
  • Choir – Münchener Bach-Chor
  • Composed By – Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Conductor – Karl Richter
  • Contralto Vocals – Hertha Töpper
  • Double Bass – Franz Ortner
  • Engineer – Walter Alfred Wettler
  • Flute – Walter Theurer
  • Horn – Kurt Richter (6)
  • Liner Notes – Georg von Dadelsen
  • Oboe d’Amore – Edgar Shann, Kurt Hausmann
  • Orchestra – Münchener Bach-Orchester
  • Organ – Hedwig Bilgram
  • Photography By – A. Sahm*
  • Producer – Karl-Heinz Schneider
  • Soprano Vocals – Maria Stader
  • Tenor Vocals – Ernst Haefliger
  • Trumpet – Adolf Scherbaum
  • Violin – Otto Büchner
Grey cloth box
DIN A4 Archiv Card with tracks/timings on backside and solists
Full Size multipage Libretto with glued in photo of Karl Richter
Silver Label (Silberetikett)

Ripping Info


  • Software: iZotope RX 4 Advanced, Adobe Audition CS 5.5, Twisted Wave 1.9
  • Super light de-clicking with iZotope, significant clicks manually removing, no de-noising
  • DR-Analisys before converting to Flac
  • Converting Wave -> Flac: Twisted Wave 1.9
  • Artwork: Sony Alpha 350, Epson Perfection V750 Pro, Photoshop CS 5.5

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13 thoughts on “HD-Vinyl 24/96 (Archiv) Johann Sebastian Bach – Mass in H-Minor (Richter)”

  1. Ciao Rach.

    E’ un po’ di tempo che non ci si sente. Ho bisogno di un consiglio da un esperto come te riguardo ad un componente Hi Fi da rinnovare nella mia catena di ascolto. Come posso disturbarti? Grazie. Armando

  2. Thank you!

    Just a bit curious why would the Amazon review name among the soloists Gundula Janowitz and Horst Laubenthal… But then again Amazon continuously makes a mess of its rewiews.

    1. Despite the fact, that some singers are different in the two interpretations (this my rip and the DVD performance) I basically wanted to spot on the music, the work itself.

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