Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Olaf Bär, Johann Sebastian Bach, John Eliot Gardiner|
Bach: Arias and Choruses from the St. Matthew Passion
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A voice teacher and early music fan
George Peabody | Planet Earth | 06/24/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"THIS REVIEW IS FOR THE COMPLETE ST. MATTHEW PASSION AND AS SUCH APPLIES TO THE HIGHLIGHTS RECORDING AS WELL!
The St. Matthew Passion is a Sacred Drama created by Bach as an integral part of the Good Friday Vespers in Leipzig where it was first performed around 1727. The elements of it can be placed under distinct headings: narrative element in which the Evangelist(tenor) and Christ(baritone)play the central roles; a lyrical and contemplative element provided by the arias; a meditative and communal element provided by the chorales; and the choruses that comment on events taking place, often at times with almost overwhelming power.
Gardiner's approach to this Passion is fervent and quite theatrical. The forces that Bach required to perform this work is greater than those he assembled for almost any other of his compositions: two choruses, two orchestras and another group of treble voices to sing the cantus firmus of the opening chorus. In this respect Gardiner followed Bach's lead.
The soloists are indeed an impressive group for the most part. Anthony Rolfe Johnson as the Evangelist sings with clarity and all the nuances of a good story teller-Andreas Schmidt makes an eloquent Jesus. Gardiner chooses to share soprano solos between Ann Monoyios and Barbara Bonney and both perform in style; however Monoyios has the more dramatic sounding voice (in my humble opinion).
Gardiner again is into the sharing business that he does frequently on many of hi EARLY recordings, which makes for an uneveness of quality that sometimes is detrimental to the overall production, and it's somewhat true in this work. He shares the alto solos with von Otter and Chance, both of whom have excellent voices, but are completely different in their sound AND interpretations. Chance's interpretations are always highly dramatic and moving, example on this recording being both of his arias, but particularly 'Er Barme Dich' that he sings impeccably and brings one to the point of weeping!
Howard Crook delivers the tenor arias matchlessly, with an admirable feeling for lines. Olaf Bar, bass, sings his solos with an excellent feeling for legato and his soft-grained voice suits this music perfectly.
Lest we forget the terrific performance of the Monteverdi Choir: clean and neatly implemented phrases, clear crisp diction and great emotional investment. Marvelous singing, as per usual.
This ia a fine recording, though I don't think that it measures up to the 1994 Cleobury performance with the King's College choir and an excellent solo line-up; no sharing on this one! For many people who prefer the female sopranos opposed to the boy sopranos, this recording may be preferred. But I tend to think that the King's forces and Kirkby and Chance (with all the alto solos) has the edge!
However, Gardiner puts his individual stamp on everything he directs which involves breathing life into every section of the work and manages to convey the optimlum underlying Bach's profound testament to the Christian faith."