Melvyn M. Sobel | Freeport (Long Island), New York | 11/29/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This particular St. Matt is constantly being reissued on one budget label or another, and for good reason: it happens to be superb. The Schutz SAINT MATTHEW PASSION is a fairly austere vocal work, light years distant from the familiar Bach version you may know and love. But it's the stark beauty of the Schutz vision that I admire and enjoy; it is reverential, as it should be, devotional, a tad bleak, yet utterly compelling. It tends to make one immediately introspective. Should you have any leanings at all towards experimenting with baroque vocal music, I would avidly suggest hearing Schutz; and the price of the CD precludes hesitation.
[Running time: 56:14] "
At this price, why not?
Melvyn M. Sobel | 09/27/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In my youth, I made the mistake of building my personal audio library solely on what bargain-basement recordings I could find-- usually titles like "Stravinsky's Greatest Hits" from second-hand stores. Life has seasoned my wisdom and taught me that I must pay the extra couple of bucks for that quality I so desire.If only I had bought albums like this! I had been given a gift certificate, and didn't want to pay much of my "actual" money, so I bought this one on a whim, knowing I'd get a quality product from the composer, but unsure of the performance. Not only are the singers in tune, (a rarity at this price... trust me.) but the soloists and the choir adhere to Baroque performance practices.Thank you, Dieter Kurz."
An underappreciated gem
FrKurt Messick | Bloomington, IN USA | 10/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Heinrich Schütz (1585 -1672) is often considered the most important German composer prior to J.S. Bach. He composed pieces in the secular and the sacred areas, including the first German opera, 'Dafne', which is unfortunately lost. A contemporary of Monteverdi, he also exists in the period of transition from medieval polyphony and Renaissance styles and the emerging Baroque era.
One of the interesting features of this Passion of St. Matthew is that it is an entirely choral piece. In the Dresden chapel, where many of Schütz's Passions were first performed, musical instruments were not permitted during Holy Week. Schütz proves himself a grand composer and a skilled dramatist with the play of the composition here. This is an austere work, with elements that are reminiscent of Gregorian chant and aspects that reach fuller expression in Handel and Bach later. Apart from the introductory and concluding words, Schütz uses only the biblical text.
This work was done late in life for Schütz, in 1666. He had been a court composer and sponsored composer for most of his life; trained in Italy, he had a style of combining German song and Italian opera elements together.
The Württemberg Chamber Choir, under the direction of Dieter Kurz, was founded in 1970. They are a group of 35 members who are church musicians and church school students. They have a good list of recordings, broadcasts and live performances to their credit. In 1982, they won a Chamber Choirs competition in London sponsored by the BBC. Director Dieter Kurz also serves as a professor in choir at the Stuttgart Staatliche Hochschule in addition to leading this group.
This is a beautiful recording of a lesser known piece - it is unfortunate that Schütz isn't better known, given the power of his compositions. "
A real bargain, but note does NOT include the second track
FrKurt Messick | 02/12/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The back cover of the CD box mistakenly claims that it includes both the Matthew Passion AND the Resurrection Oratorio, which as the Passion is 55 minutes and the Resurrection Oratorio 40 is sadly impossible. Still this little typo aside this is still a real find.In all likelihood no-one is going to believe that a recording of one of Schutz' major works at this ridiculous price is going to be a decent listen, but it is, and more than just decent. In fact I'm not sure if it isn't truer to the work than the rather cool British reading by the Hilliard Ensemble which came out on EMI's Reflexe label during the late 80s. One of the strengths of this recording under Kurz are the famous names among the soloists: Hans Peter Blochwitz as the Evangelist, Cornelius Hauptmann as Caiaphas. The other strength is the clear diction and naturalness of the all-German cast.The CD doesn't include texts but there are various sites offering the Luther Bibel on the Web from which anyone can download Matt Ch26 and 27. That's the full text, verbatim.DDD sound, (p) 1994, playing time 56'14""