The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s Christmas Matinee concert is something to look forward to every season. This year, for the first time in forty-five years, the orchestra is performing one of the gems in Johann Sebastian Bach’s œuvre, his B minor Mass, BWV 232. Conductor Philippe Herreweghe shares the stage with his choir, Collegium Vocale Gent, and equally outstanding soloists. It promises to be a truly heavenly afternoon!
Often referred to as Bach’s ‘Hohe Messe’ (or High Mass), the name was not the Baroque master’s own. When Bach’s music was rediscovered in the nineteenth century, this full-scale Catholic mass was given the fanciful name to distinguish it from his other small masses. Incidentally, it remains unclear why Bach, a Lutheran, decided to reconfigure and arrange a number of his earlier works to create a Catholic mass at the end of his life. In any event, the result is a monumental masterpiece.