Since the additional movements of the Roman Catholic Mass (Sanctus, Agnus Dei, and Credo) that appear in his B minor Mass were excluded, Bach's four missa breves (short masses) are essentially two-movement Lutheran works. Naturally, Bach being Bach, he subdivided the expansive Gloria into five shorter movements; set the texts as arias, duets, and choruses; and used an orchestra ensemble including strings, flutes, oboes, trumpets, and organ as a powerful and colorful accompaniment. But at the heart of all four works is the austere faith of Martin Luther, and the German reformer's strength, severity, and occasional sentimentality is at the spiritual core of Bach's sacred music.
Another superlative Alpha production! Really! From the beautiful multiple Gainsborough reproductions through the astute notes and the vivid sound to the stunning performances, this really is another superlative Alpha product. Violinist Pablo Valetti and harpsichordist Céline Frisch are fluent and soulful players with an empathetic sense of ensemble. In these Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord, Valetti and Frisch's warm tone, supple tempos, and expressive lines make Bach's music sound as virtuosic as ever, but more lyrical than usual. Alpha's recording is close and detailed and real, capturing the sound of the air in the room. The notes are lively and learned and entertaining. The notes on the Gainsborough on the cover are even better and even the tiny little reproductions somehow contrive to catch the effervescent beauty of his light and shape and color and texture. While the classic recordings of the Sonatas remain inviolate, Valetti and Frisch should be heard by anyone who loves recorded art.
In 1989, Steps Ahead consisted of Mike Mainieri on MIDI vibraharp, synclavier and acoustic piano, the young saxophonist Bendik doubling on keyboards, guitarist Steve Kahn, Tony Levin on electric bass and Chapman stick, and drummer Steve Smith. The powerful band did not have a great deal of subtlety by this era, but it helped to keep the much-maligned genre of fusion alive, mixing the sound of rock with jazz improvising.