Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Hermann Prey, Johann Sebastian Bach, Karl Richter|
Bach: Sacred Masterpieces
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
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Avrohom Leichtling | Monsey, NY | 04/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These recordings, absolutely without question, are among the most perfect performances of JS Bach you will ever hear, dating as they do from the heyday of the DGG Archiv Produktion in the late 1950's and early 60s. From every point of view, Karl Richter was a superlative Bach conductor, and the performances he achieved, orchestrally and vocally, are without equal. He understood exactly how this music was to be played, and then achieved the impossible. If this set of recordings does not "make the case" for any of the works included, absolutely no others will. Richter's orchestra performs on "modern instruments" - which, for 21st century ears is just fine. The music itself comes through gloriously. DGG's engineers have preserved the originals such that they sound absolutely magnificent. This was certainly a restoration of great love and care.Even if you can't afford it, you should also spring for the DGG re-issue of Richter's 26 CD set (!) of the Cantatas as well. ..., it's an unbelievable bargin. The performances, there too, are superlative."
Virginia Opera Fan | Falls Church, VA USA | 04/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've owned all these recordings for years, first on the Archiv LPs - in fabric upholstered boxes with 4 x 6 library index cards enclosed - and the subsequent individual CD issuances. For those who have never heard them, I strongly advise you to seize the opportunity. I also have the cantata series mentioned in other postings, so my affection for Richter's achievement should be obvious.
To get the negatives out of the way first, the sound isn't state of the art, but who cares? The choral sopranos can take on a metallic edge at times, but those passing faults do not undermine the achievement of this well rehearsed ensemble. I'm still not entirely happy with Richter's slow motion treatment of the Christmas Oratorio's Part II "Schlafe, mein liebster" but it doesn't bother me so much any more.
Overall, Richter strikes a good balance between performance practice sensibilities and his personal interpretative point of view. With playing and singing of this quality, the absence of period instruments and the use of a medium sized choir doesn't bother me. Hearing these operatic soloists apply their well schooled vocal resources and emotional sensibilities to the music is a treat indeed.
While it would be nice to hear Richter's second St. Matthew again - the CD reissue has disappeared - I prefer the 1958 version. Haefliger's Evangelist is one of the great assumptions of the part. Seefried was outclassed by Mathis in the second version, but Engen's Jesus in the earlier version stands up very well indeed, as do Hertha Topper, Fischer-Dieskau and Haefligher in the tenor arias. The organ continuo of 1958 can get screechy at times but it's preferable to the harpsichord of the 1970s.
The St. John holds its own with the competition and is one of the few examples we have of Evelyn Lear singing Bach. In the Christmas Oratorio, Wunderlich's Evangelist is another example of our great loss in his untimely death. Janowitz, Ludwig and Crass complete an unbeatable solo quartet.
If you like your B-Minors "massive" this is the recording for you. It has a satisfyingly grand sound without being overblown. The soloists are again a distinguished group and Adolf Scherbaum leads the trumpets. Be prepared for the umlaut shift in latin words like "coeli". I don't think the Magnificat has held up quite as well after 45 years, but it's no clinker.
I am also very satisfied by more recent historically informed period instrument performances, but Richter was one of the last great representatives of an older performance tradition. Few conductors have done these works so well with such performing forces, particularly the vocal soloists."
In case you are unaware...
John Kyrk | 03/15/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The performance of the B-minor Mass in this set is NOT the famous one in the boxed set of LPs, contrary to what other reviewers have implied. Sorry, but it is not as good, plus it was recorded in front of a live audience, meaning coughs etc. Why would DGG do this? I feel duped."