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Discussion: Biber: Missa Christi Resurgentis - Manze

Posts: 3

Post by mwagner1962 October 23, 2005 (1 of 3)
With all due respect to mba_overlord, this is NOT the first ever recording of this piece.

The first ever recording of this piece was recorded in 2003 by The New York Collegium under the direction of Andrew Parrott, music director and conductor..

Not to disagree with the review in any other way, as the Manze recording is every bit as good as the Parrott!!!

Cheers,

Mark in Austin

Post by Beagle December 4, 2007 (2 of 3)
I would like to thank Osbert Parsley for his thoughtful review, for it has sent me back to this recording with critical ears. Quote Parsley:

"The instrumentalists are proficient and polished, but the voices, especially the solo singers, are poor. Especially the upper voices are riddled with excessive vibrato which sometimes even shakes them off key and always muddies the textures that are so important in Biber's polychoral music. Why Manze should be content with singers who show little affinity with the stylistic and historically informed aspirations of his instrumentalists is a mystery."

True, there is one soloist who has two bad moments: something like one would hear from a male whose voice is about to 'break' into adolescence. True again, there is some notable vibrato at least at one point, but rather than finding it intrusive, I thought it a rather clever way of fitting the voice to a descending scale: one of those baroque protracted vowels which spans a half-dozen notes or more. In summary, while the rest of the singing does not consistently send shivers down my spine, it doesn't disappoint me either.

I agree with Parsley's observations, but I nonetheless find this disc very worth purchasing for the following reason: Biber is not about singing, in the same way that Monteverdi is (I've been playing Monteverdi: The Sacred Music 2 - The King's Consort/Robert King for comparison). With Monteverdi, the voices are the body and spirit of the music, and any instrumental contribution is almost imperceptible in the background.

Biber was a virtuoso violinist, so not surprisingly instrumental composition is where his genius dazzles. The brass choirs on this disc are very, very beautiful, perhaps what the 1968 disc Antiphonal Music of Gabrieli would have been if it were recorded today. At least for me, the eight sonatas and two fanfares which make up the bulk of this SACD are the raison d'être for this recording: THEY send shivers down my spine!

I can only speculate about Biber's reasons for writing this mass; writing masses was presumably an inescapable part of being a composer in those days. Although Biber treats the vocal texts quite musically and cleverly, I don't hear the level of enthusiasm for the material which shines out of the instrumental music.

Post by Pigito May 13, 2008 (3 of 3)
Beagle said:

Biber is not about singing, in the same way that Monteverdi is (I've been playing Monteverdi: The Sacred Music 2 - The King's Consort/Robert King for comparison). With Monteverdi, the voices are the body and spirit of the music, and any instrumental contribution is almost imperceptible in the background.

Beagle,

You need to listen to Monteverdi's 1610 Vespers to understand how important the instrumental contribution is in Monteverdi, sometimes very complex and virtuoso instrumental parts. Also, I do not think the Monteverdi disc you are listening to has any value as a comparison. The singers are really bad, especially the sopranos and altos, and the whole feel of the performances is more Handel and Vivaldi than Monteverdi. I agree with Osbert that the singers Manze uses in his Biber are poor quality. If they are not shaking with vibrato, they are singing for power rather than agility and the comparison with Parrott's Biber recording is very telling in this aspect. This is only my opinion, of course, but don't you wonder why in Manze's recording or Robert King's Monteverdi the instruments play in one style and the singers sing in another style?

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