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Recordings & Discussions of Other Vocal Works: Main Page | Motets BWV 225-231 | Mass in B minor BWV 232 | Missae Breves & Sanctus BWV 233-242 | Magnificat BWV 243 | Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 | Johannes-Passion BWV 245 | Lukas-Passion BWV 246 | Markus-Passion BWV 247 | Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 | Oster-Oratorium BWV 249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-523 | Quodlibet BWV 524 | Aria BWV 1127

Matthäus-Passion BWV 244
General Discussions - Part 10

Continue from Part 9

Kittel MP on CD

Riccardo Nughes wrote (August 25, 2004):
From mdt.co.uk website ->

BACH
Matthäus-Passion
Tila Briem, Gusta Hammer, Walther Ludwig, Hans-Hermann Nissen, Fred Drissen
Bruno Kittel Choir, Erich Röhn (solo violin), Berlin Philharmonic/ Bruno Kittel
First release on CD
This recording derives from very rare 78's and is a very important document about wartime recordings in Germany - a must for every collector due to the rarity of the original 78's
Gebhardt 2cds JGCD0053-2

The Gebhardt label website states that this recording in from 1942 ->
http://www.gebhardtmedien.de/
JGCD 0053-2
BACH: Matthäus-Passion - Briem, Hammer, W. Ludwig, Nissen, Drissen; Bruno Kittel Chor, Berliner Philharmoniker, Bruno Kittel - Studioaufnahme Berlin 1942

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (August 25, 2004):
[To Riccardo Nughes] OK, Riccardo, you are always giving me places to spend money. Odd coincidence indeed. Last night (Monday night, not this night which is Tuesday night where I am) I was listening to the the vK 1950 Vienna performance with Ferrier and the same Ludwig is there both tenor soloist and evangelist. The bass you note was a great Hans Sachs in Meistersinger. I don't know even the names of the soprano and alto let alone the solo fiddler. I don't have a cell phone whatever that thread was about.

Teri Noel Towe wrote (August 30, 2004):
[To Riccardo Nughes] The statement at the mdt.co.uk website is incorrect. The Gebhardt release is not the first appearance of the Bruno Kittel Matthaeus Passion on compact disc.

It was transferred to CD and published on Philips CDs in Japan in 1992. The catalogue number of that release is SGR-6011~3.

There are a total of 3 CDs, rather than two, in the Japanese reissue, because the set, Vol. 4 in the Shinseido Great Recordings Series, also contains Kittel's recording of the Mozart-Sussmayr Requiem.

Bruno Kittel also made a recording of the Beethoven Missa Solemnis, but, if that has ever been published on CD, I am not aware of it.

Like the contemporaneous Gunther Ramin recording, which is much rarer than the Kittel in "original" German pressings (The post-war HMVs are dubs from published discs.), the Kittel BWV 244 is severely abridged.

Nos. 19, 23, 28, 29, 38, 40, 41, 48, 49, 50, 51, 55, 61, 64, 65, 66, 70, and 75 (BGA, not NBA, numbering system) are omitted completely.

Nos. 32, 34, 35, 37, 39, 52, 54, 59, 67, 71, 73, and 76 are abridged.

Forgive an expression of personal opinion, but, for my money, Walther Ludwig is the greatest Evangelist on recordings. While he is not in as good voice in the live 1950 Karajan performance from Vienna as he is in the Kittel, at least, in the 1950 Karajan recording, his interpretation of the entire part can be heard.

I get goose bumps just thinking about Ludwig's intense rendition of the Crucifixion recitatives.

PS: Were it not for the rules of the list, I would attach a scan of the cover of the Japanese release.

Aryeh Oron wrote (August 30, 2004):
Teri Noel Towe wrote:
< PS: Were it not for the rules of the list, I would attach a scan of the cover of the Japanese release. >
You can send a scan of the cover to my personal e-mail address and I shall add it to the relevant page of the BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV244-Rec1.htm

BTW, has the David McKinley Williams's SMP (the first SMP ever recorded) ever been issued in CD form?

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (August 30, 2004):
Teri Noel Towe wrote:
< Forgive an expression of personal opinion, but, for my money, Walther Ludwig is the greatest Evangelist on recordings. While he is not in as good voice in the live 1950 Karajan performance from Vienna as he is in the Kittel, at least, in the 1950 Karajan recording, his interpretation of the entire part can be heard. >
On the vK Ferrier he is indeed not so pretty. Your personal opinion, informed beyond measure, as it is, is always welcome, whether that of TNT or of JSB. And, Dear Teri, no list should allow attachments. That's why I have left some of yours.

Riccardo Nughes wrote (August 31, 2004):
The statement at the mdt.co.uk website is incorrect. The Gebhardt release is not the first appearance of the Bruno Kittel Matthäus Passion on compact disc.

It was transferred to CD and published on Philips CDs in Japan in 1992. The catalogue number of that release is SGR-6011~3.

[To Teri Noel Towe] Can you please tell us in which year actually was recorded this MP ?

thanks,

Teri Noel Towe wrote (September 1, 2004):
[To Riccardo Nughes] According to the documentation on the Japanese Philips CDs, the performance was recorded in 1942. Personally, I know of no source that says otherwise.

I have a set of the original wartime 78s in my collection, but I am in the country at the moment, and the discs are in the City. I do not recall a copyright date on the labels, but I will try to remember to look when I go back at the end of the weekend.

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 1, 2004):
[To Teri Noel Towe] According to your article:
"The earliest among them is an abridged performance of the SMP recorded in Berlin in the mid 1930s by the Bruno Kittel Choir under the direction of its founder, Bruno Kittel [3]"

If the correct date is 1942, I shall fix it at the relevant page of the BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV244-Rec1.htm

It also means that Kittel was only the 6th conductor to record the SMP, after McKinley Williams, Hans Weißbach, Koussevitzky, Mengelberg, and Ramin.

Teri Noel Towe wrote (September 3, 2004):
The earliest recordings of BWV 244

[To Aryeh Oron] Commercially, yes.

There may well be, however, at least one more "complete" recording that antedates the Kittel recording of 1942.

In his recently published article, "Bach in North America during the shellac era (1900 - 50)" in "Irish Music Studies 8" (pp. 161 - 178) (Dublin, 2004), Martin Elste, as a part of his discussion of "the common performance practice of the 1940s" in the United States, describes "a performance by the well-established Bach Choir of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, conducted by Ivor [sic] Jones on the Voice of America Programme (No. 18). The passion was sung in English with the continuo part played on the pianoforte and the dramatic recitative 'Und siehe da, der Vorhang im Tempel zeriss' supported by tombones. This performance was advertised as a 'Musical Special Evening.'" (pp. 167 - 168)

In the footnote, Martin, alas, does not provide a specific date, nor does he list any of the soloists,l but, on the basis of the discographical material he supplies ( "7 SP 41 cm with 33 1/3 rpm. Matrix nos. DS-1080/DS-1093"), the recording appears to have been essentially a complete performance that was pressed on 16" discs for broadcast use by the Voice of America.

If my little grey cells are working correctly, Ifor Jones became the Director of the Bach Choir in Bethlehem in 1939 and remained at the helm until Alfred Mann took over some 30 years later.

When in the 1940s, this recording was made is as yet uncertain, and, unfortunately, I personally must defer making inquiries about it until after I get my current project, which already is a year overdue, completed.

I hope, however, that this material will be of help and of interest to the members of the List in the interim.

Neil Halliday wrote (September 4, 2004):
Teri Noel Towe wrote:
<"The passion was sung in English with the continuo part played on the pianoforte and the dramatic recitative 'Und siehe da, der Vorhang im Tempel zeriss' supported by tombones.">
I personally hope that, when the fad for fundalmentalist accuracy (or what is believed to be 'accurate') has passed, current performers will consider variety in performance, in the continuo recitatives, such as this.

The continuo of this particular recitative (in the first section) is highly figured, so adding an effective part for trombones would not be difficult - and might add much to the drama.

Teri Noel Towe (September 8, 2004):
Teri Noel Towe wrote:
<"The passion was sung in English with the continuo part played on the pianoforte and the dramatic recitative 'Und siehe da, der Vorhang im Tempel zeriss' supported by tombones.">
More accurately, Teri quoted Martin Elste!

{:-{)}

 

Mark-Anthony Turnage on Bach

John Pike wrote (November 3, 2004):
The prominent British composer Mark Anthony Turnage is interviewed in BBC Music Magazine this month for the column "Music that changed me". The world premiere of his new "A Relic of Memory" was given by Simon Rattle and the Berlin PO last month.

After talking of his love of Beethoven Symphony 7 and Beethoven chamber music, he says "When I was developing as a composer Bach's St Matthew Passion was a revelation to me: I'm not religious, but there is something so spiritual about it. When I listen to the opening ten bars - I'm completely overwhelmed. I've never actually sung in this piece, but I'm not sure I could - I find that opening almost unbearable, its humanity, the generosity of spirit...I can honestly say that this piece means more to me than any other. Bach is the purest composer ever and is what every other composer aspires to: his humility, his craftmanship, every note is in place. I think my feelings about this piece crystallised in my new piece for the Berlin Philharmonic and Simon Rattle, "A Relic of Memory". In it, I take the first six bars of the St Matthew Passion and base a whole work upon them".

No doubt many on this list, composers and non-composers alike would wholeheartedly agree with this tribute to Bach.

 

St. Matthew Passion performance - I'm confused

mlespaul62 wrote (November 17, 2004):
I realize the message schedule has already passed BMV 244 by for now, but I was hoping someone might be able to help me identify a performance. On an older Bach compilation CD I own, called The Best of Bach, it has "Wir setzen uns mit Tränen nieder" as performed by Kenneth Dowley and the Westminster Symphony and Chorus. It is a single track of a live performance as evidenced by the grand amount of applause at its completion, but my problem is that I have never seen a complete performance of BMV 244 by Mr. Dowley and the Westminster Chorus and Symphony available anywhere at all, and it is not listed on bach-cantatas.com as one of the performers. No year or date listing is provided.

Is it safe to assume then, that Mr. Dowley's recorded performance of this piece as I have it was never part of a complete interpretation of the Passion? It is truly a marvelous selection that caused me to speculate whether the complete passion had ever been recorded by him and this group of musicians and performers. If anyone could provide any knowledge, it would be greatly appreciated.

If its possible for me to share this track with members in some way for their commentary, please let me know. Thanks for your time and patience.

 

Elgar and the SMP

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 30, 2004):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Years ago I heard a commentator on UK Radio 3 describe how Elgar would take a brass quintet to the top of the crenellated tower of Worcester Cathedral and play Bach chorales which drifted over the cricket grounds and beyond. Has anyone else come across this story and could furnish more detail to it? >
In 1911 Elgar and Ivor Atkins worked together on a Novello edition of the St Matthew Passion. Then, putting together a performance for the Worcester Festival, Atkins got the idea of having Bach chorales played from the tower before each part. Elgar made the musical arrangements, but wasn't as gung-ho about this as Atkins was.

Also, as a teenager, Elgar had made some string quartet arrangements of WTC fugues.

Source of these notes: Elgar bio by Robert Anderson, 1993, Schirmer.

=====

p.s. the "Personalia" index of this book lists a Harriet Cohen (1895-1967), a pianist whose two speciality composers were Bach and Bax! She was supposed to be the player for Elgar's piano concerto but he never got around to finishing it. Only the slow movement, which she premiered in 1956.

p.p.s. I haven't seen this Novello edition of the SMP, reportedly translated into English. Anybody here seen or used it?
http://www.google.com/search?q=elgar+atkins+novello+matthew+passion

Doug Cowling wrote (December 1, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< In 1911 Elgar and Ivor Atkins worked together on a Novello edition of the St Matthew Passion. Then, putting together a performance for the Worcester Festival, Atkins got the idea of having Bach chorales played from the tower before each part. Elgar made the musical arrangements, but wasn't as gung-ho about this as Atkins was. >
Sounds like someone had been to Bayreuth once too many times.

Adrian Horsewood wrote (December 1, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< p.p.s. I haven't seen this Novello edition of the SMP, reportedly translated into English. Anybody here seen or used it?
http://www.google.com/search?q=elgar+atkins+novello+matthew+passion >
I've got a copy, and have used it - it's the edition of choice amongst amateur choral societies of a certain generation here in the U.K....! (Sorry if that offends, but the only times I've used the Elgar/Atkins edition has been with choruses who have used it all their lives and who would never consider singing it in German!) While I prefer to sing the SMP in German, I am very fond of this English translation (a combination of two, one by a Miss Johnston and the other by a Dr Troutbeck), which, I feel, has a real sense of poetry in the language, a vestige of times gone by... :o)

Sorry for the burble - but this edition has a special place in my heart...!

Gabriel Jackson wrote (December 1, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
"p.s. the "Personalia" index of this book lists a Harriet Cohen (1895-1967), a pianist whose two speciality composers were Bach and Bax!"
She was Bax's lover for a time. And of course the dedicatee of "A bach book for Harriet Cohen", a collection of Bach transcriptons for piano, by various English composers of the time.

Peter Smaill wrote (December 1, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] Thank you for this information , creating a fuller picture of the context of Elgar demonstrating Bach en plein air , which was also brilliantly achieved by John Eliot Gardiner in the rendering of O Jesu Christ meins lebens Licht BWV 118 outside Iona Abbey on Friday 28 July 2000.

Harriet Cohen . A Bach Book for Harriet Cohen is I recall the production of the English eccentric Lord Berners, and includes his version of the Orgelbuchlein "In dulci jubilo" for piano. Bax indeed also features together with Vaughan Williams, whose Bachian proclivities are made clear in the contemporaneous English Hymnal's introduction.

But I expect you know all this already ?

Anna Vriend wrote (December 1, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote: < p.p.s. I haven't seen this Novello edition of the SMP, reportedly translated into English. Anybody here seen or used it?
http://www.google.com/search?q=elgar+atkins+novello+matthew+passion >
Through your google search, I find: http://dogbert.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=281549598

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 1, 2004):
[To Peter Smaill] Nope, the first I'd heard of the JEG gig at Iona was John Pike's mention of it, a month or two ago.

I really don't know anything about Bax other than the name; this is interesting stuff. I have one of the Naxos CDs of a Bax symphony, guess I should put that on. As I said yesterday, taking Mr Sherr in seriousness, I get those othepost-Edwardian Englishmen (other than RVW and EDU, of course) mixed up a bit, simply from not hearing their music enough yet. My period of focus has been 17th and 18th C, not early 20th....

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (December 1, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< (other than RVW and EDU, of course) >
What about GH? his suites for band are excellent! (We're playing his first suite on Saturday!)

And my mind is blanking on who EDU is.

Teri Noel Towe wrote (December 5, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< p.s. the "Personalia" index of this book lists a Harriet Cohen (1895-1967), a pianist whose two speciality composers were Bach and Bax! She was supposed to be the player for Elgar's piano concerto but he never got around to finishing it. Only the slow movement, which she premiered in 1956.

p.p.s. I haven't seen this Novello edition of the SMP, reportedly translated into English. Anybody here seen or used it?
http://www.google.com/search?q=elgar+atkins+novello+matthew+passion >
Harriet Cohen made the first recording of the D Minor Clavier Concerto, BWV 1052, in 1924. She also recorded the first 9 Preludes and Fugues from WTC 1. The latter recordings were at one time available on a Biddulph CD. Like Myra Hess, Nina Milkina, and Hermione Gingold, Ms. Cohen was a pupil of Tobias Matthay. She wrote an absolutely delightful autobiography, entitled "A Bundle of Time," which was published in 1969. Ms. Cohen was drop-dead gorgeous when she was young, and she had close friendships with both Elgar and Bernard Shaw. Pablo Casals also was a great admirer of her playing.

Bax, who was unhappily married, dumped his wife and took up with Ms. Cohen. This was the subject of a 1992 BBC television show in which Glenda Jackson played the role of Harriet Cohen.

To my ears, Harriet Cohen was an absolutely superb pianist, and she was as passionate an advocate of early music as she was of contemporary music. It is a pity that there are not more recordings.

There are two versions of the Elgar/Atkins Novello SMP edition. The 1911 edition, which supplanted the Sterndale Bennett edition of 1862/1871 in the Novello Octavo Edition series, was revised in the late 1930s by Atkins, after Elgar's death. Both versions show up on eBay with some regularity.

The concept of intoning chorales arranged for brass was not new when Elgar and Atkins introduced it at Worcester. It already was an established tradition at the Bach Festival in Bethlehem, PA, where it was still observed as late as the early 1990s. (I haven't been in some years, so I don't know for certain if they still do it.)

 

OVPP SMP in which Evangelist sang Coro I Tenor

Teri Noel Towe wrote (January 4, 2005):
Doug Cowling wrote:
< Has anyone ever heard an OVPP performance in which there were the requisite eight soloists and the Evangelist also sang the Coro I Tenor? >
In 1984, Joshua Rifkin and The Bach Ensmeble gave such a performance at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The performance was recorded and subsequently broadcast by North Carolina Public Radio. The cast was:

Caroline Helton (s) [Soprano in ripieno, First maid, Second Maid, Pilate's Wife], Penelope Jensen (s) [Chorus Two], Anne Monoyios (s) [Chorus One], Allen Fast (a) [Chorus Two], Steven Rickards (a) [Chorus One], Frank Kelley (t) [Chorus One], Patrick Romano (t) [Chorus Two], Jon Finson (bs) [Judas, First Priest], Greg Honeycutt (bs) [Peter, Pilate, High Priest, Second Priest], William Sharp (bs) [Chorus One], Fredric Moses (bs) [Chorus Two], The Bach Ensemble

Frank Kelley sang all of the music allocated to the Tenor in Coro I; as you know, the original part bears the specitic designation "Evangelista."

As one also can divine from the cast list, a performance that scrupulously follows the original parts requires a total of 11 singers, if the "soprano in ripieno" versions of the opening and concluding Coros in Part One are chosen.

I was present at the performance, and I recall it as a revelatory evening. It really was like hearing the work for the first time. The OVPP performance had a blistering clarity that was unforgettable, and the complex interrelationships between the vocal and instrumental lines were particularly vivid.

No live performance is without its flaws, technical and otherwise, but that performance that I heard nearly 21 years ago was the least imperfect one could reasonably expect.

Doug Cowling wrote (January 4, 2005):
[To Teri Noel Towe] Could someone please outline for me the individual vocal parts in the SMP or direct me to an article. I'm particularly interested to know:

* do each of the "characters", such as the two high priests, have a separate page with their just the individual character's music?

* are the Coro 1 arias included in the evangelist's part?

Thanks,

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 4, 2005):
[To Doug Cowling] Check the discussion at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Topics/OVPP-13.htm
skip past the flak at the very beginning and begin about 1/4 of the page from the top

Ehud Shiloni wrote (January 4, 2005):
[To Teri Noel Towe] That Rifkin SMP performance was once mentioned here by another member. Very intriguing.

Do you know if the recording has survived and if there is any chance we'll ever be able to get it on a CD?

Thanks

 

St Matthew Passion

Santu de Silva wrote (January 17, 2005):
The Matthew Passion is among the most dramatic works that JS Bach created. I'll leave for other writers to fill out the details about the dates on which it was written, the circumstances, the librettist, and so on.

For those who are new to this work * and Bach lovers who have come to his music through his smaller works, or through his instrumental compositions are probably in this group * you may have to change gears! This is a work that combines the power of the Messiah (Händel) with the intimacy of the passion chorale, an often-sung hymn during Lent and Good Friday.

The conception of the work is as a double-chorus, and a children's chorus. Most recordings place the two choirs (and their soloists and orchestras) one on the left, and one on the right, with the children's chorus in the center. The three choruses all appear in only two movements: the two great choruses that open and close the first part of the passion. (The division into two parts may not be Bach's own.) If you find yourself exhausted after the second big chorus (Oh Man, bewail thy grievious sin), I advise you to take a break, and continue listening when you're fresh.

I list here some of the more lovely features of the passion. (It helps to have landmarks like that in a long work.)

The first chorus is just wonderful; for many it symbolizes the whole work (just as the great Introit of Mozart's Requiem does). The tone-painting is particularly stunning, with the two choirs trading question and answer, sometimes in the same bar. ("Behold!" "Whom?" "Behold the Bridegroom!") It is an unforgettable chorus, possibly the greatest the Bach ever wrote, certainly one of the most emotionally powerful. In contrast to the turbulence of the adults commenting on the action, the serene children's chorus weaves between, softly reminding us of the innocence of the victim ("Oh Lamb of God, unblemished.") Now this entire movement is steeped in the rhetoric of faith. But to the outsider, betrayal of the innocent is still perfectly understandable. (All the more so, since we are unburdened with theological justification of the events.)

The first aria (solo) is a commentary on the grief of the spectator: "Grief for sin, rends the guilty heart within." Perhaps this aria serves to leach away some of the mental turbulence that the listener feels, which gets in the way of continuing to listen. Two flutes, playing staccato, depict t. May my tears be a welcome sacrifice, says the contralto, something that moves me every time. If you love Bach, you could never resist the beauty of this aria. For those who are beginning to be analytical about Bach's part-writing, this is a quartet: the Contralto, the two flutes, and the wonderfully agile and expressive bass line. No other filling harmony is needed, though of course the tiny chamber organ does accompany the work.

"Ich will bei meine Jesum wachen!" This is for tenor and chorus. The tenor says: I will watch by Jesus! and the choir says: So lay your cares to rest. The choir's insidious lullaby is repeated exactly 11 times, to signify the eleven disciples who remained while Jesus prayed at the Mount of Olives. (Judas had gone to bring the Temple guard to arrest Jesus.) EVen if one resents being manipulated by the librettist * but what is poetry, if not manipulation of language to achieve a desired emotional end? * one ends up surrendering to the sorrow of the piece. In the last analysis, the disciples could have done little to prevent the tragedy, but Christians through the ages have taken the remorse of the disciples for their own. [Incidentally, I deplore the way conductors tend to hurry through this movement. Varying the time is an expressive device that works beautifully in Chopin, but is not needed in Bach. We've come a long way from the so-called 'sewing-machine' performance style of the seventies, and a little elasticity of pace is fine. But ...]

"Blute nur," * Bleed on, my heart * is an aria at about the denial of Peter. (The disciple Peter, in fear of arrest, is discovered loitering near the room in which Jesus is being arraigned. When challenged, Peter stammers that he has never seen Jesus before--a low point in his life.)

"O Mensch, bewein dein Suendre gross!" This is the big chorale for double-chorus and ripieno trebles that I mentioned. It brings to a close the events of the night; the rest of the passion concentrates on the events of the following day, until Jesus dies. The chorale is sorrowful summation of the grievious sin of mankind, made bearable somehow because of how the warning is given by fellow-sinners. The central chorale is carried by the children's chorus, while the adult double-chorus underscores the words of the children, a heart-breaking movement, no doubt even more expressive to speakers of German.

There's no denying that the St Matthew Passion (SMP for short) is hard for non-believers, and even harder for those of the Jewish faith. I am a sort of non-believer, but being such a lover of Bach, I have come to terms with his faith. However, it is a testament of the faith of a sincere man (Bach) who lived among fellow-christians, and I can accept it at that level. Whatever it may say above and beyond this, it is a record of the last days of Jesus, and his execution, a tragedy unfolding before our helpless eyes.

An early recording of the SMP (Harnoncourt, I believe, I could be wrong) pointed out the complexity of the drama. The Passion is a picture within a picture, within a picture, within a picture. It depicts the passion story as recounted in the gospels (some decades later), through the eyes of Bach (some centuries later), as we watch and listen, three hundred years after that. So we must bear in mind the multiplane camera through which the grief flows to us, and even at that remove, I'm often moved to tears.

 

Aria "Aus liebe..." in SMP

Urani Borg (Robot Roby) wrote (January 20, 2005):
I am new to the list, even though I have been lurking for some time. I am by no means a Bach specialist or scholar, as some persons here, but I appreciate Bach on a daily basis.

I'd be very grateful for some feedback on the SMP, the recordings of which I have been collecting. As many persons, if I think that every part of it is wonderful, I much appreciate the aria, "Aus liebe..." and I often use it as a test to sort the different recordings of the SMP. I am struck by the fact that in Herreweghe II, admittedly one of the very best versions, this aria is quite dull, unexpectedly, considering the oustanding quality of the performance (and nothwithstanding the art of the soprano, whom I respect). This is frustrating, since the very words give significance to the very idea of passion. I was wondering if this opinion about this version was shared, and what would be, according to you, the best version of this aria, in all the recordings extant.

I apologize for my clumsy English!

George wrote (January 20, 2005):
Urani Borg:
>>> .... I'd be very grateful for some feedback on the SMP, the recordings of which I have been collecting. As many persons, if I think that every part of it is wonderful, I much appreciate the aria, "Aus liebe..." and I often use it as a test to sort the different recordings of the SMP .... Urani Borg.<<<<
What do you think of the Klemperer SMP with Elizabeth Schwartzkopf ? For myself I love the alto arias, I particularly love to listen to Christa Ludwig, and in this regard this is my favorite recording. what do you think of the 1959 Richter recording?

Urani Borg wrote (January 21, 2005):
[To George] You are right, E. Schwarzkopf is always first rate; I shall relisten to Richter -- certainly featuring in the TOP 3-- this week with special attention to the alto; thanks for the feedback!

By the way,and passing to less popular versions, am I the only one appreciating the Mauersberger(s) version of SMP? I have seen that it was not discussed here and I can't help thinking it is a very good performance.

 

OT as in Occasionally Trite

Sw Anandgyan wrote (March 15, 2005):
[To Richard Bradbury] <snip>
BTW I've been listening to a different SMP every day and this time around I was really astonished with Herreweghe II and today was Joshuard Daus,indeed Ehud was right in mentioning it as a splendid experience. Tomorrow I shall add Ton Koopman to my collection. Care to tell me which one is your current favourite?

 

Recommended recordings of the SMP

John Pike wrote (March 18, 2005):
In BBC music magazine this month, Dr Simon Heighes reviews recordings of the SMP. The list he listens to is much less comprehensive than that reviewed by Jonathan Freeman Attwood for Gramophone several months ago, but the list of his favourite 4 recordings is an interesting one, which I agree with so far as I am able. Top choice is Harnoncourt 3, followed by Richter 1958, Lehmann 1949 (which I don't know) and McCreesh, in no particular order. I certainly share his views on Harnoncourt 3, Richter 1958 and McCreesh.

Some of you will remember Dr Heighes for his fine reconstruction of Bach's St Mark Passion, the music of which is lost, but for which the libretto remains.

Sw Anandgyan wrote (March 18, 2005):
[To John Pike] Interesting, I'm so happy to declare having fallen in love with this oeuvre.

Once I asked if there was another aria with the near rapture beauty as with the MBM 'Agnus Dei' or the SJP 'Es ist volbracht' and not only is there the 'Erbame Dich' in the SMP but the exquisite 'Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben'.

There is the recent acquisition of the Ton Koopman take on the St-Matthew Passion that I consider slightly more ethereal than other HIP versions and the Karajan I that have recently praised. Your post makes me curious about the Lehmann since there is a copy available in Montreal since a couple of months.

Indeed Harnoncourt III, Richter I and McCreesh are remarkable recordings. It makes me curious about this issue of the BBC magazine as to see what the reviewer had to say about the Herreweghe ones; at my last listening session I was surprisingly more impressed with his second version than his first.

Nice to hear from you John.

John Pike wrote (March 18, 2005):
[To Sw Anandgyan] He doesn't mention any of the Herreweghe recordings (I have the first of these and love it). He reviews Gardiner and several older recordings, all of which he has good things to say about, but those were his top 4. I, too, was surprised that Herreweghe hadn't found his way in there.

Bob Henderson wrote (March 18, 2005):
I agree entirely that these three are "the best" and I would hesitate to rank them. The intthing here is how different they are. This is Richter's best recorded performance and perhaps DF-D's as well. The last hour is simply sublime and may never be equaled in spiritual feeling and depth. But this is not a HIP altho I think Richter in many ways anticipates that movement. The McCreesh is the most idiosyncratic. It is a highly charged and dramatic performance of great intensity and intimacy. Its really at the other extreem when compared to Richter. Small forces; a micro examination. Deborah York is beyond praise. OVPP clarifies, draws in, makes the whole venture more personal and emotional. I loved the use of the large church organ. Harnoncourt II occupies a kind of strange middle ground.This is the most balanced and least controversial of the three. No weaknesses. No mistakes. A lifetime of experience deeply felt. Pregardien and Goerne are standouts for me. Deep sorrow conveyed with compelling artistry.

John Pike wrote (March 18, 2005):
[To Bob Henderson] I assume you meant Harnoncourt's 3rd recording (2000, I think), which is the one which Simon Heighes (and JFA for that matter) recommended.

Bob Henderson wrote (March 18, 2005):
[To John Pike] Thanks John. Yes number lll. ( I now discover that I have the first one on LP! with Equiluz and Ritterbusch, choirs prepared by Gillesburger and Willcocks among others. Won all kinds of prises. Circa 1975? ) Bob

Sw Anandgyan wrote (March 18, 2005):
[To Bob Henderson] Indeed Bob, very well put.

I chose to listen again to the McCreesh and I agree with you.

Talk about elegiac elegance when we reach the conclusion of the SMP and this is only from a musical point of view. I dare not imagine the depth a Christian can fathom from listening to this masterpiece.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 20, 2005):
John Pike wrote:
< In BBC music magazine this month, Dr Simon Heighes reviews recordings of the SMP. The list he listens to is much less comprehensive than that reviewed by Jonathan Freeman Attwood for Gramophone several months ago, but the list of his favourite 4 recordings is an interesting one, which I agree with so far as I am able. Top choice is Harnoncourt 3, followed by Richter 1958, Lehmann 1949 (which I don't know) and McCreesh, in no particular order. I certainly share his views on Harnoncourt 3, Richter 1958 and McCreesh.> Some of you will remember Dr Heighes for his fine reconstruction of Bach's St Mark Passion, the music of which is lost, but for which the libretto remains. >
I know this is digging up old stuff again, but could you or anyone point out to me a link where I could find Dr. Heighes's notes (and possibly a list) of the items he used in his Markuspassion (BWV 247) reconstruction (in movement order)? also Koopman's?

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 20, 2005):
[To John Pike] I haven't heard the Lehman recording, but I do not abree about the others. While I do like Richter's recording, I like the 1979 version better than the 1958.

If I were to review and rank my favorites, they would be:

Henning (if I could ever get it in any other way than wire transactions).

Richter 1979.

Mauersberger bros.

Rilling (the Witness scene and the scene between the two Chief Priests).

That is about it.

Eric Bergerud wrote (March 21, 2005):
I really have to give a plug for the 1970 Harnoncourt SMP. I haven't heard his new one but have four other versions and none pack the punch of this one to my ears. I like authentic instruments and I certainly like the "sound" of the Harnoncourt / Leonhardt cycle, and this SMP doesn't disapoint. And like rest of the cycle, it is the most distinct - that may or may not be in it's favor depending upon one's taste. Anyway, if one is going to collect SMPs, I don't think you could ignore this performance simply because it is so unlike the competition. (And MIGHT have been the closest to what Bach heard.)

BTW: picked up a little religious trivia. I've been reading Peter Ackroyd's interesting biography of Sir Thomas Moore. (They skipped the part about Moore burning Lutherans when they made Man for All Seasons.) Anyway, in Revelations (I'll take Ackroy'd word for this) it suggests that the anti-Christ would be born to a priest and nun. Moore thought Luther and Katharine von Bora fit the bill. Funny, had I been Moore, I think I would have guessed Henry XIII, one of history's genuine barbarians.

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Chorales BWV 250-438 - General Discussions Part 3 [Other Vocal Works]

 

Royal Philharmonic Society lecture and Peter Maxwell Davies

Thomas Shepherd wrote (April 26, 2005):
Perhaps members of the Bach mailing lists might like to look at the following extract from the beginning of the lecture. The full lecture is available through the web link at the end of the quotation.

Royal Philharmonic Society Lecture 2005 given on 24 April 2005 at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Master of the Queen’s Music

Will Serious Music Become Extinct?

The other evening, after my usual full day of writing music, I turned on, as so often, BBC Radio 3, and was immediately immersed in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. I felt privileged to be put so easily in touch with one of the greatest creative minds in our history; or, to be more specific, put into contact with a mind which had so singularly drawn together into one glowing unified whole such diverse cultural threads, religious, historical and literary, alongside musical traditions of composition and performance. I reflected that, through education, I have access to all this, even to the extent of feeling myself in a happy and complete union with the work, while at the same time regretting that the vast majority of people is unaware of this richest of possible listening experiences: not only unaware, but often actively antagonistic towards it, deeming it elitist, the exclusive domain of the elderly, or even of the semi-moribund, irrelevant to contemporary life, the product of a long-dead European white male.

Yes, I know the Bible upon which the work is based, I understand the German text, I know something of the rather peculiar Christian protestant theology permeating Bach’s work, particularly in the cantatas, and the polyphonic and baroque traditions behind the musical composition and its performance are familiar enough to enable me to appreciate efforts to create the original sound-world of the music. Most importantly, I can read music.

I reflected further that much of Bach’s output, in common with so much music of his age and before, was written for the resources of a relatively small town, to be performed immediately, as ritual, by and for ordinary, not particularly privileged people, where all members of society had, in theory, access to major musical experience through sometimes compulsory attendance at church. Each town had at least one respectably competent Kapellmeister, and although Bach, particularly, had one eye on God and eternity, he and his contemporaries were mainly thoroughly practical in making music within the realms of the spiritual and musical comprehension of its original executants and listeners, while often stretching these capacities, with no compromise on the part of the author. It is clear for whom Bach was writing: God on the one hand, and his colleagues (performers and congregation) on the other. If a Kapellmeister held a court position too, so much the healthier for his working environment.

I can even record that broadcast performance, to enjoy again; or I can buy a commercially available recording of the St. Matthew Passion. This is the first time the music of the past, and, be it said, that of the present, has been potentially available to all, even those well out of range of live performance. I mentioned the majority out there which has no interest in, or is unaware of Bach, but we must not forget that, through performances, broadcasts and recordings world-wide, he reaches an audience huge beyond his imagining, part of a phenomenon unprecedented in music’s history. But for whom do socalled serious or Classical composers write now?……………

http://www.royalphilharmonicsociety.org.uk/?page=lectures/rpsLectures/current.html

Uri Golomb wrote (April 26, 2005):
[To Thomas Shepherd] Thanks for this, Thomas. As a qualified admirer of Maxwell Davies's music (I enjoyed many -- but not all -- of the works I got to know so far), I was certainly interested in his views, and used the link you provided to order the full text. I think many members here will also find his lecture interesting, and not just the bit you quoted!

 

Continue on Part 11

Matthäus-Passion BWV 244: Details
Recordings: 1900-1949 | 1950-1959 | 1960-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-2009 | 2010-2019 | Individual Movements
General Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 | BWV 244a | BWV 244b
Systemetic Discussions:
Part 1: Mvts. 1-8 | Part 2: Mvts. 9-20 | Part 3: Mvts. 21-29 | Part 4: Mvts. 30-40 | Part 5: Mvts. 41-50 | Part 6: Mvts. 51-57 | Part 7: Mvts. 58-63b | Part 8: Mvts. 63c-68 | Part 9: Role of the Evangelist
Individual Recordings:
BWV 244 - L. Bernstein | BWV 244 - F. Brüggen | BWV 244 - J. Butt | BWV 244 - R. Chailly | BWV 244 - S. Cleobury | BWV 244 - J. Daus | BWV 244 - D. Fasolis | BWV 244 - W. Furtwängler | BWV 244 - J.E. Gardiner | BWV 244 - W. Gönnenwein | BWV 244 - P. Goodwin | BWV 244 - E.z. Guttenberg | BWV 244 - N. Harnoncourt | BWV 244 - P. Herreweghe | BWV 244 - R. Jacques | BWV 244 - H.v. Karajan | BWV 244 - O. Klemperer | BWV 244 - T. Koopman | BWV 244 - S. Koussevitzky | BWV 244 - S. Kuijken | BWV 244 - F. Lehmann | BWV 244 - G. Leonhardt | BWV 244 - P.J. Leusink | BWV 244 - E.&R. Mauersberger | BWV 244 - H. Max | BWV 244 - P. McCreesh | BWV 244 - W. Mengelberg | BWV 244 - K. Münchinger | BWV 244 - R. Norrington | BWV 244 - G. Oberfrank | BWV 244 - S. Ozawa | BWV 244 - A. Parrott | BWV 244 - G. Ramin | BWV 244 - S. Rattlr | BWV 244 - K. Richter | BWV 244 - H. Rilling | BWV 244 - H.J. Rotzsch | BWV 244 - H. Scherchen | BWV 244 - G. Solti | BWV 244 - C. Spering | BWV 244 - M. Suzuki | BWV 244 - J.v. Veldhoven | BWV 244 - B. Walter | BWV 244 - F. Werner | BWV 244 - M. Wöldike
Articles:
Saint Matthew Passion, BWV 244 [T.N. Towe] | Two Easter St. Matthew Passions (Plus One) [U. Golomb] | St. Matthew Passion from Harnoncourt [D. Satz] | The Passion according to Saint Matthew BWV 244 [J. Rifkin] | The Relationship between BWV 244a (Trauermusik) and BWV 244b (SMP Frühfassung) [T. Braatz] | Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 - Early History (A Selective, Annotated Bibliography) [W. Hoffman] | Spiritual Sources of Bach's St. Matthew Passion [W. Hoffman] | Bach and the "Great Passion" [D.G. Lebut Jr.] | The Genesis of Bach's `Great Passion': 1724-29 [W. Hoffman] | Early Performances of Bach's SMP [T. Braatz]

Recordings & Discussions of Other Vocal Works: Main Page | Motets BWV 225-231 | Mass in B minor BWV 232 | Missae Breves & Sanctus BWV 233-242 | Magnificat BWV 243 | Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 | Johannes-Passion BWV 245 | Lukas-Passion BWV 246 | Markus-Passion BWV 247 | Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 | Oster-Oratorium BWV 249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-523 | Quodlibet BWV 524 | Aria BWV 1127

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