Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Peter Pears, Walter Berry|
Bach: Matthäus-Passion (St. Matthew Passion)
With all the (deserving) attention paid these days to period instruments and performance practices, it remains for any period performance group to equal or surpass this magnificent production, recorded in 1961. With solo... more »
Amazon.com essential recording
With all the (deserving) attention paid these days to period instruments and performance practices, it remains for any period performance group to equal or surpass this magnificent production, recorded in 1961. With soloists of a caliber hard to match today, and one of the world's finest orchestras and choruses, this recording brings the deeply spiritual and dramatic aspects of the work together in a way that is nothing less than revelatory. The opening chorus alone is a marvel of conducting artistry and soul- stirring choral singing. There are many more-recent recordings with better sound and much quicker tempos, but this one is not to be missed. --David Vernier
My personal favorite...
Guy Cutting | 06/10/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As my other reviews indicate, Bach's St. Matthew Passion is an accomplishment which cannot be overstated, and is an essential component of any CD collection. But having said that, this recording of the work conducted by Otto von Klemperer is not a good choice for first exposure to the St. Matthew Passion. Why? Well, the approach taken is definitely not one of drama. The emphasis here is on contemplation, and even worship in a way. The main reflections of this spirit are: 1. slow tempi and 2. subtlety of emotional inflection. This recording tips the scales at close to 4 hours - more than an hour longer than most recordings. The opening chorus is twich as long as on most other recordings, as are the chorales. The advantage of this approach, in my mind, is that it gives the music time to unfold, gives the listener a chance to keep pace. The disadvantage is that even to the experienced listener the music can seem to lack a sense of movement (which it doesn't, I assure you - it just firmly maintains its own unique sense of movement, one which has evidently gone out of style). As to the subtletly of inflection, I think that appraoch is essential to this music, which should be an introspective and devotional experience. Another interpretational decision is the use of modern instruments - I much prefer the richness of sound. I personally happen to think that the reasoning behind the "authentic" movement is fallacious... but that's only my opinion. Your choice of which recording to buy will undoubtedly depend on your opinion as it relates to the instrumental approach, so remember that this one does not use period instruments. The choir is large, which adds a sense of power to the music. The soloists are all of high quality. Highly recommended..."
Not JUST a performance
William Supon | Cedartown, GA USA | 04/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"OK--this is more than just a performance of Bach's Matthäus-Passion. It is a religious experience, as it should be. Like Albert Schweitzer's Bach organ works(does anybody know THEM any more?), Klemperer's Bach is a personal record of one great man's probing, meditatiive thoughts on one of the greatest works of Western music. It is outside of such considerations as "authentic performance practice" and "authentic instruments." With a set of singers far beyond anything that could be assembled today--Heather Harper as Pilate's Wife; Geraint Evans as a priest, Walter Berry as Peter. . .
These are, of course, in addition to Pears, Schwarzkopf, Ludwig, and Fisher-Dieskau as the "big" soloists!
Listen to the final chorus. It is slow, searing, powerful. Compare it to the more "authentic" versions--which all sound like "OK--let's throw Jesus in the grave and get it over with."
Give Otto a try. Shut off the telephone. Turn off the lights. LISTEN! You will weep at the supreme tragedy of Western Man."
Moving and Powerful, yet Difficult Recording
Erik Stadnik | 03/23/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This recording of the St. Matthew Passion captures all the feeling and emotion present in the Biblical passages upon which it is based. It is an excellent recording to use for study due to its extremely slow tempo. The tempo, however, unfortunately makes it rather tedious if you do not love the piece before listening to this recording. The final chorus, "Wir setzen uns," is magnificently done, as is the opening chorus. The soloists are superb, and Klemperer certainly knows how to make one wait for a chord to resolve. All in all, it's simply amazing."