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St Matthew's Passion
Bach, Tear, Willcocks
St Matthew's Passion
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (26) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (25) - Disc #2
  •  Track Listings (24) - Disc #3


CD Details

All Artists: Bach, Tear, Willcocks, Thames Chamber Orch
Title: St Matthew's Passion
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Asv Living Era
Release Date: 2/13/1995
Genre: Classical
Styles: Opera & Classical Vocal, Historical Periods, Baroque (c.1600-1750), Early Music, Sacred & Religious
Number of Discs: 3
SwapaCD Credits: 3
UPC: 743625032420

CD Reviews

Willcock's finest hour
Andrew Short | Canberra Australia | 09/13/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is not what you would call an "authentic" version in the choice of instruments this great master users. However I firmly believe that if you want to try and catch the spirit of this great work Willcocks is hard to beat and very authentic indeed. This is a warm performance full of life. The evangelist is sung perfectly by Robert Tear, and Shirley-Quirk sings the part of our Lord with great energy and does a great job of bringing the text life. The Bach Chior well they are truely moving here. The Thames Chamber orchestra gives a rich warm flowing sound. Singing it in English was a great move making it easy to follow if you don't speak German. The notes given about this version in gives good insight into Willcock's thinking. Pitty King's College Cambrigde Choir weren't in this but anyway this is a superb recording. Bach would like it, and I'm sure Christ enjoys it too. Willcock you did a fine job here."
No longer the only English recording
Larry VanDeSande | Mason, Michigan United States | 12/20/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Following English langauge recordings of Bach's Biblical (and operatic) passion story from Kouzzevitsky (1937), Bernstein's chopped up account from 1962, and (this one) David Wilcocks' beautifully-sung 1979 statement marred by an unfocused amateur choir, Jeffrey Skidmore and Birmingham-based Ex Cathedra presented us with a modern recording, made in concert on Good Friday 2009 in Birmingham, of Bach's entire religious masterpiece.

Skidmore used a period band and a style that may have been used in Bach's time -- soloists that step from the choir for their appearances, then return to their parts -- and a mixed professional and amateur force, Skidmore has succeeded in updating the passion for 21st century ears and sensibilities.

None of that dims the glory of this 1978 version of Bach's great religious opera avialable in English. The butchered Bernstein version, with its multiple cuts in the second part and overaccented singing everywhere, was until Skidmore (currently N/A in USA in December 2009 but will be soon) the only English alternative.

This set holds up well against modern competition but shows its age in style and the quality of the choral performance. The choir is this recording is a group of amateurs that are recorded in an environment that produces a more diffuse and less centered sound that you may be used to from period performance recordings such as Gardiner or Rilling. It is often difficult to understand what they are singing without resorting to the notes, which list everything do not coordinate the text to the tracks, making it easy to get lost.

The singing in the major roles is all adequate or better and everyone is recorded well. The singers include staples from the Decca vault -- tenor Robert Tear as Evangelist, John Shirley Quirk as Christ and soprano Felicity Lott, contralto Alfreda Hodgson, tenor Neil Jenkins and bass Stephen Roberts in major roles.

However, the style reflects 1978, not 2009, and differences between then-prevalent big band Bach and today's scaled-down period Bach will not be hard to see. Play Stephen Roberts' aria "Come healing Jesus" (Part 2, No. 67 on disk 3) and listen to the support he receives from the violist; today the instrumentalist (a cellist, most likely) would attack the notes and make his or her part the equal of the singer's role.

This is a good version where all the singing is at least satisfactory and, often in the solo roles, much better. The better news is this performance was reintroduced on Decca in 2007. If you can't find it here, shop around; it's out there."
A good English version at a reasonable price.
Larry VanDeSande | 05/16/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Excellent Evangelist and powerful Christ. The contralto was lyrically intense, the choir less so. While I prefer the original German, I found this CD adequate though not fully satisfactory."