As always, René Jacobs surprises with its radical, visionary interpretations. In this rich High Messe he considers all the singers here – the RIAS Kammerchor and the soloists – as one big choir. They all therefore participate in the large choral movements such as the first ‘Kyrie’, in three compositions that alternate within a movement: a chamber choir, a small choir, and a solo ensemble. Jacobs relies on historical sources for this, but even if his approach was completely anachronistic, he would continue to convince artistically. In the ‘Osanna’ the timbres tumble over each other kaleidoscopically, from large to small and back again. Jacobs also blows the piece open in his tempo choices: the ‘Et in terra pax’ juicy, the ‘Sanctus’ impossibly danceable. The soloists shine in their arias, Helena Rasker for example in a dark ‘Agnus Dei’, but in the choral parts that Jacobs gives them as a solo ensemble, they rise above themselves: the ‘Crucifixus’ crushes with its restrained lamentation motifs.
A version of this article also appeared in the newspaper of May 12, 2022