Bach: Mass in B minor [1985 recording]
Bach's B Minor Mass was never performed during his lifetime, and scholars are still trying to figure why he wrote this enormous work at all. The most plausible explanation is that Bach wanted to leave his mark in one of the oldest and most important of all musical forms. Whatever the reason, here it stands: a summit of our musical culture. From the exhilarating brilliance of the "Cum Sancto Spiritu" in the Gloria to the wrenching lament of the "Crucifixus" in the Credo, it seems as if Bach expresses every possible emotion. John Eliot Gardiner's polished and deeply-felt performance captures every glorious aspect of this supreme masterwork. It doesn't feature star soloists, as do many other recordings, instead bringing forward singers from the chorus to create a marvelous feeling of selfless unity. The recorded sound is superb, the bright sound of the period instruments shines through, and the balance between soloists, chorus, and orchestra is ideal.