BACH: Mass for Four Voices, BWV 234; Prelude for Organ, BWV 544; A Funerary Monument for the Queen of Poland, BWV 198; Herzlich tut mich velangen, BWV 727; Fugue, BWV 544 – Katharine Fuga, soprano/ Carlos Mena, alto/ Jan Kobow, tenor/ Stephan MacLeod, bass/ Francis Jacob, organ/ Ricercar Consort/ Philippe Pierlot, conductor – Mirare MIR 030, 78:19 **** [Distr. by Harmonia mundi]:

This quasi-unusual recording contains two rather substantial and not very often recorded works. The Mass, one of the so-called Lutheran Masses, is a rather grand work done in the traditional Lutheran style, with the Kyrie and Gloria only. It is a fine work, perhaps not one of the most familiar from the Master’s corpus of work, but well worth knowing. The main attraction here is the “Funerary Monument for the Queen of Poland”, actually a tombeau, a type of piece designated for the memorial of a personage. In this case the memorialized is the Queen of Poland, Christiane Eberhardine, a faithful Lutheran married to her rather notorious husband King, August II, the “Strong”. A certain student wished to read a memorial to her in the Leipzig University Church, and asked Bach to provide the music for the occasion. Bach went one step further than mere occasional music, and created an integral cantata ode of great strength and complexity. The work, Italianate in style, is very colorful and ingratiating, with some wonderful organ interjections, and it is nice to have such a fine recording now in circulation.

The performers here obviously relish their duties, and the sound is excellent from company Mirare, a new one to me, but certainly no strangers to capturing Bach in a most satisfactory audio environment. Esoteric? Definitely. Worth it? You bet.

— Steven Ritter