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Bach: Johannes-Passion BWV 245
Bach, Fritz Wunderlich, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Bach: Johannes-Passion BWV 245
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (69) - Disc #1


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CD Details

All Artists: Bach, Fritz Wunderlich, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Karl Forster, Choir of Saint Hedwigs - Berlin Cathedral
Title: Bach: Johannes-Passion BWV 245
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: EMI Classics
Release Date: 11/5/2002
Album Type: Import
Genre: Classical
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 077776423425

CD Reviews

Traditional, reverent Bach, beautifully done, and with Wunde
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 01/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Otto Klemperer never recorded the St. John Passion, but if he had, the result would probably have sounded much like this 1961 set from Karl Forster. Until the period instrument revolution, Bach was a church composer, and church musicians like Karl Munchinger, Karl Richter, and Forster claimed the territroy of cantatas, masses and passions. Only occasionally did a great conductor like Klemperer or Karajan step in.

Of the reigning Bach specialists in the Sixties, Forster was the best in Berlin. The excellent choir from St. Hedwig's church performs here; they are not up to the professional standards of the Philharmonia Chorus or, more recently, Gardiner's Montiverdi Choir. Even so, EMI used first-rate soloists. No less than Fritz Wunderlich is the Evangelist (vocally sublime if not the most anguished or inolved narrator) and Fischer-Dieskau is Jesus, with Christa Ludwig and Elisabeth Grummer leading the female soloists.

The sum is a wonderfully sung and well conducted account. Forster isn't inspired--I would rank him a bit above Munchinger and Richter--and his tempos are usually church tempos. I don't find them at all ponderous and greatly prefer a reverent tone to the zip-along of most contemporary Bach performers. Others may miss the speed and incisiveness of a Gardiner, though. For inspired leadership of a traditional sort, one would turn to Benjamin Britten on Decca, but his version is in English."
Bach for those who like it big and who admire Fritz Wunderli
W. Chiles | San Francisco, CA USA | 12/18/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"After a friend loaned me an LP version of this recording I was blown away by the fact that Fritz Wunderlich had recorded the evangelist and tenor solos in stereo! I've always adored his singing and was delighted that he had the opportunity to record this work before his untimely death. The chorus is one of germany's typically well trained amateur ensembles, very clean and bright with little vibrato. An ideal sound for Bach especially considering it's a large chorus. This is definitely not for period performance fans. The orchestra plays on modern instruments and the chorus is large, but one still hears all the details of Bach's counterpoint and orchestration and does not have to put up with the whining period strings or out of tune woodwinds.

For those of us who experienced Bach in the 60s and 70s, these performances give his music a grandeur we do not hear today. I enjoy the lively dance tempos of period performances and the clean articulation but they simply do not convey the majesty and grandeur of this great music. Who's to say that Bach would not totally approve of hearing his music performed by larger ensembles with modern instruments? Music lives and breaths; is not frozen in time. Our ears hear this music informed by the works of Bach's followers Mozart, Beethoven, Mahler and Stravinsky. I highly recommend this well mastered CD. If you only know Bach through period performances, then give this a listen. You will not hear a tenor today who can sing this like Wunderlich.

I also recommend, if you can find it, the performance recorded by Britten using Imogen Holst's english translation. He uses boy trebles and a chamber orchestra. There is more than one way to perform Bach."