Jochum: Bruckner - Die 3 Messen (2 CD, FLAC)
Jochum: Bruckner - Die 3 Messen (2 CD, FLAC)

Performer: Anton Nowakowski, Elmar Schloter, Edith Mathis, Maria Stader, Ernst Haefliger, et al.
Orchestra: Bavarian Radio Chorus, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bayerischen Rundfunkorchester, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Conductor: Eugen Jochum, Josef Schmidhuber, Kurt Prestel
Composer: Anton Bruckner
Audio CD
SPARS Code: A-D
Number of Discs: 2
Format: FLAC (tracks+cue)
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Size: 699 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

# Mass No. 1, for soloists, chorus, orchestra & organ in D minor, WAB 26
Composed by Anton Bruckner
Performed by Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
with Karl Ridderbusch, Marga Schiml, Elmar Schloter, Wieslaw Ochman, Edith Mathis

# Mass No. 2, for chorus & winds in E minor, WAB 27
Composed by Anton Bruckner
Performed by Members of Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks

# Mass No. 3, for soloists, chorus, orchestra & organ in F minor (“Great”), WAB 28
Composed by Anton Bruckner
Performed by Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
with Claudia Hellmann, Anton Nowakowski, Maria Stader, Kim Borg, Ernst Hafliger

Superb performances, but DG messed up the re-mastering

Bruckner’s Masses are not as well known as his symphonies, but not for lack of worth. I would argue that Mass #1 in d-minor is the greatest choral/religious work I’m aware of, which is not meant to diminish Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis or Brahm’s German Requiem or a number of other very impressive works. Many writers have commented that Mass #3 is Bruckner’s “masterpiece” of the genre, but not to take anything away from the 3rd mass, respectfully, I think that designation belongs with Mass #1. Mass #1 is a towering and deeply moving work, and while one of Bruckner’s very earliest compositions, foreshadows so much of what was to come in Bruckner’s great symphonies. The Mass is a cohesive musical whole, not just a collection of sections held together by text, yet it would be unjust to not indicate that the Credo and Gloria are especially overwhelmingly powerful and beautiful. And to cap it off, Bruckner pulls it all together so convincingly and magnificently in the closing Agnus Dei. I can’t say I have had anywhere near as strong a reaction to Masses #2 and #3, but they are certainly worth hearing.

With regards to the performances, hats off to Eugen Jochum. He is at his absolute finest in these performances, and I have not heard any better. These performances exhibit a level of involvement, passion, and total commitment from Jochum and his orchestra, chorus, and soloists, that is thrilling and far from routine. The performances sound almost as if their lives depend on getting it right–and they do in spades. This can only be considered a towering achievement for everyone involved.

UPDATE Sept. 2011: I got my hands on the original box set and listened to it. Those who have stated that DG completely messed up the re-mastering of this set have got it 100% right, and it’s SHOCKING what a botched job they did. Having only heard the re-mastered version, I assumed that the sections of sonic distortion and congestion were from the original tapes and reflected the consequence of recordings made in the 1960s and early 1970s. WRONG. Listening to the original CDs, none of that is there–it was all added during the re-mastering. Plain and simple, the engineers who did this should be shot. I agree with others who have posted that the original CDs sound much better than these re-mastered disks. So while the performances on a scale of 1-5 would rate at least an 8(!), the sonics have been really screwed up by DG. My recommendation: Find a copy of the original boxed set, and enjoy it. Going forward, I’m only going to listen to the original CDs from the box set.

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