Saturday, 12 April 2008

92. Johann Sebastian Bach - St. Matthew Passion (1727)
















Recording

Title: Matthaus-Passion
Performers: Munich Bach Choir and Orchestra
Director: Karl Richter
Year: 1958
Length: 4 hours

Review

This is the longest of the two amazing Passions by Bach, and it is also the one I was most familiar with. It is a pretty long affair, but also a particularly enjoyable one, even the recitatives are somewhat more enjoyable than the ones in St. John's, as they are constantly interrupted by choruses.

And the choir work is one of the most amazing things here, Bach really exceeds himself here, but then the arias are equally perfect, and particularly in the second part of the Passion (in the third CD) there are a couple of truly spectacularly beautiful arias. Still, in every one of the three CDs there is something you kind of can't live without, from the opening of the Passion to the exquisite arias.

A truly spectacular piece of work which is made justice by the now quite old Karl Richter interpretation, all the epic power of the thing is preserved here, Matthew's Passion has all the power compared to the more transcendent St. John's. Great.

Final Grade

10/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Two distinctive aspects of Bach's setting spring from his other church endeavors. One is the double-choir format, which stems from his own double-choir motets and the many such motets from other composers with which he routinely started Sunday services. The other is the extensive use of chorales, which appear in standard four-part settings, as interpolations in arias, and as a cantus firmus in large polyphonic movements, notably “O Mensch, bewein dein’ Sünde groß,” the conclusion of the first half—a movement this work has in common with his St John Passion—and the opening coro, Kommt, ihr Töchter, helft mir Klagen, in which the soprano in ripieno crowns a colossal buildup of polyphonic and harmonic tension, singing a verse of the chorale O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig.

The surviving manuscripts consist of eight concertato scores, used for eight soloists who also served in the two choirs, a few extra "bit parts", and a part for the soprano in ripieno. Unlike Bach's Johannespassion, where parts are extant for ripieno doubling on the choruses, there is little evidence that additional singers beyond the soloists were used in the "choirs".

The ending, in a Karl Richter Version:

2 comments:

Alberto said...

I love Richter's interpretations of Bach Sacred Works. I suggest you also the St. John Passion conducted by Richter (DG 1964), I can assure you that it isn't boring at all. Great Blog, full of precious information! Thank you!

angelchen said...

The one in the video is from 1971, it is not from 1958.