William Christie and Les Arts Florissants
William Christie, now at the age of 73, is one of the greatest conductors of the historically informed practice (HIP).
The Baroque Ensemble Les Arts Florissants he founded is among the best period ensembles out there. I’ve written about them several times already, e.g. about their Händel Album Music for Queen Caroline, or their Monteverdi Madrigal recording.
I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing William Christie with his ensemble twice already, once performing Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas at the London Barbican Theatre, and more recently, with Xavier de Maistre at Hamburg’s new Elbphilharmonie.
Bach’s B-Minor Mass BWV 232
I’ve said previously that this is one of the most important masterpieces ever written, and really never get tired of hearing it. In the liner notes to this album, William Christie calls it “[Bach’s] testament, his epitaph, a legacy to those who would follow him”
Bach: Mass in B-minor – William Christie – Les Arts Florissants (Harmonia Mundi 2018)
This is a very intimate recording (in spite of being live, this was recorded in 2016 at the Philharmonie de Paris). Both singing and playing are very delicate and balanced.
Tempi are relatively fast (especially compared to the old Karl Richter style) but never rushed. To quote Christie again from the liner notes: “Quicker tempi suggest a more physical and dance-like approach to the music“.
Honestly, I really don’t know what to criticize here. I’m a fan of the lighter, more intimate approach, and of the faster tempi. I prefer this even to the very good 2015 Gardiner recording.
It doesn’t kick my all time favorite of Philippe Herreweghe of the throne of “best B-minor ever” for me personally, as the latter just adds a tiny bit more “sparkle”, but this an album really very much worth having.
My rating: 4 stars (actually very close to 5 stars, I just still give the edge to Herreweghe)
You can find it here (Qobuz) and here (Prostudiomasters)