Recordings/Discussions
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Additional Information

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 4

Continue from Part 3

SMP live from London!

Piotr Jaworski wrote (April 17, 2001):
I wonder if anyone else was listening (or personally attending!) the broadcasted live performance of the SMP - performed the Choir and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Sir Roger Norrington with Mark Padmore as 'Evangelist'.....
That was Friday evening...

I was the careful listener ...(you can imagine - preparing some Easter meals: salads sauces .. and listening to the SMP...) and would like to share some comments with another lucky ones.

As for the qualities of the performance: the 'chairperson' of the show from the Warsaw studio said that MP is the best living 'Evangelist' (Galina ..., how are you out there?); I can only add that the choir and orchestra gave the first class performance.

So, was there anyone else?

Galina Kolomietz wrote (April 17, 2001):
[To Piotr Jawoski] I attended this performance in person! Yes, I honestly believe that Paddy is the best evangelist ever. This was a remarkable performance all around. Unfortunately, I can't write a full review of it right now because my ex-boyfriend cancelled our internet connection at home w/o telling me and I haven't gotten around to re-subscribing. I'm typing this at work which should explain why I can't stay on for very long. If I get my internet subscription back soon enough I'll tell you more about my Easter pilgrimage to London.

Piotr Jaworski wrote (April 17, 2001):
[To Galina Kolomietz] You must be kidding, or this is a kind of the bitter revenge that I've not been writing for couple of weeks ...;-)

"In person"???!!! You won't be surprised that when I saw the announcement of the concert in the newspaper - I've immediately thought about the Greatest Living MP's Fan. Share all your comments with us - asap; I'm so happy that you liked the show.

Galina Kolomietz wrote (April 17, 2001):
[To Piotr Jawoski] *** Yup, c'est moi. I proudly confess to being his [Mark Padmore's] greatest fan on earth. :-)

< Share all your comments with us - asap >
*** I will. I have to remember to bring the program to work tomorrow. Like I said, I can't write from home b/c I don't have any internet connection there at the moment, and I don't remember the names of the other soloists. I also want to quote what Norrington wrote in the program: he said that most of Bach's compositions were written for OVPP forces (OVPP = one-voice-per-part). He didn't do it that way but at least he acknowledged the validity of the OVPP practice. On the subject of OVPP, I also went to an OVPP SMP directed by McCreesh on Easter Sunday. I'll tell you more about it tomorrow. Also, I heard BWV 161 directed by Robert King and it was performed OVPP!!!

Sybrand Bakker wrote (April 17, 2001):
[To Galina Kolomietz] I went to the same performance in Utrecht, Vredenburg, and I don't share your opinion on Mark Padmore. I am more and more inclined to the theory that works like this should be performed by people for whom German is their mother tongue, given the large number of English SMP performances, with which many continental European music lover simply can't connect. I don't consider his performance bad, but I do think it was lacking in correct diction, and hence correct emotion.

Peter Luba wrote (April 17, 2001):
[To Piotr Jaworski] I not only listened to the broadcast of the SMP on Polish Radio 2, but I've also recorded it (or at least most of it, it's always a compromise when you're taping something longer than 45 minutes) and I've been listening to it throughout the holidays.

Mark Padmore is indeed 'an Evangelist supreme'. The expressiveness of his delivery was moving without going over the top. What I really liked though was the orchestra. I don't pretend to be any expert (in fact I am quite a novice compared with everybody on this list and the Cantatas list) but IMHO the orchestra more than made up for the shortcomings of some of the other soloists. In general, I think it was definitely one of the more fulfilling renditions of the SMP that I've heard.

Philip Peters wrote (April 18, 2001):
[To Galina Kolomietz] And I understand that there was a broadcast which I missed. Did anybody make a tape?

I mean, the best evangelist ever.... that is no small praise. To me (not having heard this performance &%&#) the best recorded evangelist (and of course I don´t know all recordings but quite a few) is Karl Erb in the Ramin version. But of course this was in pre-HIP days. Should anybody have a tape of the London performance and feel a burning need to duplicate it I would be most interested...

Piotr Jaworski wrote (April 18, 2001):
[To Peter Luba] It's the most odd thing to reply to the posting of my fellow Pole - in English... Anyway, Peter I'm so happy to see you on the list - and funny thing: there were already three Poles on the Bach Recordings List - all called PIOTR (!!!). I miss so much Piotr Stanislawski... I hope that once he'll return.

Unfortunately the Friday evening caught me completely unprepared - no tapes, no proper antenna (no cable, no satellite) etc.I'm giving very extensive listening to the second SMP recording done by Harnoncourt - the Norrington one was a marvellous comparison.Peter, I hope to meet you in the Polish cybersphere!

One more thing.. as for Sybrand's statement about the link between diction and emotion. I almost completely disagree! What about, just an instance, Japanese singing in the most exciting on-going cantata cycle under Suzuki? Do they lack emotions?! Shall I - as a Pole - abandon listening Bach, performed by Polish or Japanese artists only because their mother languages that much differ from German? No.


Three Passions in London

Galina Kolomietz
wrote (April 19, 2001):
I recently got back from London where I attended the following three performances of Bach's St. Matthew Passion:

1) April 11, Queen Elizabeth Hall
cond. Sir Roger Norrington
evangelist - Mark Padmore
Christus - Andrew Foster-Williams
S - Philippa Hyde & Carys Lane
A - Frances Bourne, Alexandra Gibson & Diana Moore
T - Daniel Auchincloss & Andrew Carwood
B - Jonathan Brown & Richard Burkhard
Each of the two vocal choirs consisted of 5 sopranos
and 4 each altos, tenors and basses.

2) April 13, St George's Hanover Square
cond. Denys Darlow
evangelist - Rogers Covey-Crump
Christus - James Rutherford
S - Joanne Lunn
A - Clint van der Linde
T - Charles Daniels
B - Christopher Dixon
Each of the two vocal choirs consisted of about 12
singers.

3) April 15, Barbican
cond. Paul McCreesh
evangelist & T - Mark Padmore
Christus & B - Peter Harvey
S - Julia Gooding
A - Sarah Connolly
Choir I:
S - Rebecca Outram
A - Charles Humphries
T - Warren Trevelyan-Jones
B - Jonathan Arnold
Choir II:
S - Carys Lane
A - William Missin
T - Nicholas Smith
B - Robert Evans

The Norrington
The program was prefaced by the following note from Sir Roger: "Bach's chorus and orchestra were very small by today's standards. Often his 'choir' and 'orchestra' were as few as one musician to a part. Tonight we have perhaps the maximum available at the Thomaskirche. Bach's soloists were, of course, the ordinary members of his choir, boys between 9 and 19. They were not opera stars. We follow this practice by asking excellent singers from our choir to give the solos." I was quite pleased that Norrington
recognized the validity of the one-voice-per-part (OVPP) practice even though his own performance was not OVPP.

I didn't quite know what to expect from the Norrington SMP because I've never thought of Sir Roger as a baroque specialist. Yet, this turned out to be one of the strongest and most coherent baroque performances I've ever been to. Everything came together perfectly. Sir Roger brought out the best in each performer. Even the singers who were not strictly speaking top-notch gave remarkable performances. What they may have lacked in vocal quality they amply made up in expressiveness and emotional commitment. The alto who sang Erbarme dich was a particularly good example othis (unfortunately, I don't know which one of the three alto soloists sang this aria). She gave all she had to this aria: she sang it with the score nearly upside down because she never looked at it once; her body was all bent forward, her face
contorted, her eyes staring into the distance with a contemplative and pleading expression... Her performance exuded simplicity and immediacy. It was worth not only hearing but also seeing. The other soloists in the arias were also generally up to the task.

Mark Padmore gave a remarkable performance as a evangelist. His phrasing was superb. He was also in a particularly fine voice: bright, silky and more taut than usual. Sybrand recently complained about Padmore's German "diction," but I'm not sure the word "diction" is the right word to use here. Padmore's diction is excellent, but he does have an accent. There is a difference between having a poor diction and having a foreign accent. I know some native English speakers who have horrible diction even though they speak English without an accent. To me personally accent does not matter. To demand that singers sing only the things they can sing without an accent would leave English singers with almost no repertory. But I'm not going to argue with Sybrand - one's response to music is, after all, subjective. As far as I'm concerned, Padmore is an absolutely exceptional evangelist. I have heard a number of tenors in that role - Agnew, Bostridge, Ainsley, Daniels, Covey-Crump, Turk, Ovenden, Gura, Muller etc. - but to my ears Padmore is the best. He tells this story with the immediacy and conviction of an eye-witness (plus, I like the timbre of his voice – I would turn up just to hear him sing drones).

Andrew Foster, a combination of a baby face and a cavernous voice, was a very good Christus, although the timbre of his voice was too dark for my tastes. I much prefer bright-voiced bass-baritones such as Peter Harvey. Still, in terms of expressiveness and vocal technique Foster's performance was very strong.

The solo instrumentalists, particularly the gamba player, were also superb. An interesting aspect of the performance for me was that four of the choruses were sung a capella, even though instrumental scores apparently exist for all of the choruses in the SMP. The stark polypony of these choruses infused the performance with a sense of timelessness. I thought these choruses were extremely well done.

The Darlow
The Darlow SMP was performed in English, in the context of Vespers. The entire event - the passion itself, the hymns, the prayers and the sermon – lasted more than four hours. For me, as a rare visitor to the church, this was quite an experience. Rogers Covey-Crump was a wonderful evangelist, even though his vocal delivery seemed at times a bit fragile. James Rutherford with whom I am not otherwise familiar was a reasonably good Christus. Countertenor Clint van der Linde impressed me with his fine technique and phrasing although the timbre of his voice did not see m particularly beautiful. Charles Daniels was nearly perfect in the tenor arias. But the person who was above all praise was Joanne Lunn. She simply sounded like a dream. The instrumental playing was also very good. Also, just like in the Norrington SMP, four of the choruses were sung a capella.

The McCreesh
This was an OVPP SMP. There were twelve singers: four in each of the two choirs and four soloists who did not sing in the choruses but did sing in the chorales. (by the way, when this gets recorded, McCreesh will use the same singers for both the principal vocal solos and the choral parts in choir I). This was an elegant and brilliantly executed performance. I only had a couple of minor quibbles. I thought the opening chorus was a bit too fast. The beautiful bass aria about the cross was also a bit too fast - the gamba accompaniment didn't sound as effective as it could have been. The soprano in ripieno part was not sung but was played on an organ. I was surprised by this choice because McCreesh did have an extra soprano (Gooding) available - why not let her sing the part? All choruses and chorales were accompanied, which is how it should be, but thinking back to the beauty of Norrington's a capella treatment of some of these choruses I was almost disappointed that McCreesh didn't do the same.

Overall, the McCreesh SMP may have lacked some of the raw energy of the Norrington, but it definitely surpassed the Norrington in technical sophistication. The tuning in the two choirs was superb. The choral sound was clean, precise but also quite resonant – it seemed fuller than the mere sum of solo voices, particularly when both choirs sang together. The soloists were excellent. Mark Padmore was a rave - again. Peter Harvey was a great Christus. Julia Gooding was at her absolute best (even though I don't always like her). Her voice sounded more secure and solid than usual, with beautiful flute-like top notes. Sarah Connolly is not exactly my type of alto (she sounds too matronly to my ears) but she sang well. This will be recorded later this year, with Padmore, Harvey, Kozena (in her mezzo capacity) and possibly Gooding (although I'm not too sure who the soprano will be).

P.S. Herreweghe is recording an SJP this week, with Paddy as the evangelist. :-)


St. Matthew Passion

Cem Tural
wrote (April 27, 2001):
I have listened to the St. Metthew Passion, only from Gardiner. What do you think about it? Any better performances of St. Metthew's?

William D. Kasimer wrote (April 27, 2001):
[To Cem Tural] Several. For HIP, the new Harnoncourt on Teldec; for modern instruments, Rilling on Hänssler.

David McKay wrote (April 27, 2001):
[To William D. Kasimer] What is "HIP, please?"

Zachary Uram wrote (April 27, 2001):
[To David McKay] HIP = Historically Informed Performance.
It's a performance practice where one employs a methodology of using original instruments, dynamics/registration/scoring/singing parts as best as we can tell the composer intended.

T. Marcot wrote (April 27, 2001):
[To Cem Tural] Herreweghe, Koopman, Harnoncourt, Leonardt...

KaJott wrote (April 27, 2001):
[To William D. Kasimer] I think the new Harnoncourt is so much varied and thrilling, that even people who don't use to listen to HIP should listen to that recording.

David McKay wrote (April 27, 2001):
[To Zachary Uram] Thanks, Zach! Now I'm really hip


Listening to St. Matthew’s Passion

Juozas Rimas wrote (July 21, 2001):
I haven't listened to it before (just started listening to Bach's VOCAL music). I now have only a well-maintained LP with the 1958 recording of Munich Bach Choir and Orchestra (cond. K. Richter). I've been told I shouldn't search for better recordings with regards to bass arias (they're by Dietrich Fisher-Dieskau in this recording).

Indeed, the bass arias (66, 75) from Kreuzigung and Grablegung are celestial. Wonderful music and superb singing.

So far I have listened only to two parts of this huge work and would like to ask you: which parts have made the biggest impression to you? I couldn't perceive those "evangelist" (64, 67, 68 etc) parts very well. Which evangelists/choirs would be better to start from?

Deryk Barker wrote (July 21, 2001):
< Juozas Rimas wrote: So far I have listened only to two parts of this huge work and would like to ask you: which parts have made the biggest impression to you?>
The opening and closing choruses and the chorales. (Can you tell I used to be a choral singer and had little patience for soloists?)

Pablo Massa wrote (July 23, 2001):
< Juozas Rimas Jr asks: So far I have listened only to two parts of this huge work (St. Matthew's Passion) and would like to ask you: which parts have made the biggest impression to you? >
There's a moment at the recitatives that always strikes me: that one in which the tortured Jesus cries:
"Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani?"

Immediately (following the biblical text) the evangelist "translates" this cry:
"Mein Gott, mein Gott, warum hast du mich verlassen?"

Bach simply writes here the same melody, in other key.

I've always wondered why this impresses me so much every time I hear it. Perhaps this simple resource is a major exampof musical "sympatheia" ("to suffer with"): the Evangelist wants to translate the words of Jesus, but doing this, he also emulates his affection (affetto).... Imitatio Christi, after all?. Whatever the answer may be, I find this attempt of imitation deeply moving.

Santu De Silva wrote (July 23, 2001):
<< Juozas Rimas wrote: So far I have listened only to two parts of this huge work and would like to ask you: which parts have made the biggest impression to you? >>
< Deryk Barker: The opening and closing choruses and the chorales. (Can you tell I used to be a choral singer and had little patience for soloists?) >
Me (to the original question):

Try "Mache dich mein Herze rein," a Bass solo towards the end, and "Ich will dir mein Herze schenken,"(sp?) a Sporano aria about a third of the way through.

About choruses vs soli: the choruses are definitely more arresting, but the way Bach wrote arias, they're the closest thing to instrumental writing with voice that you can find in the Baroque repertoire, as most people seem to agree, unofficially. So they're a good transition to works that are more mainstream vocal or operatic, such as, for example, Händel, in my opinion.

Pablo Massa wrote (July 25, 2001):
< Santu De Silva to Juozas Rimas: try "Mache dich mein Herze rein," a Bass solo towards the end, and "Ich will dir mein Herze schenken,"(sp?) a Sporano aria about a third of the way through (...) the choruses are definitely more arresting, but the way Bach wrote arias, they're the closest thing to instrumental writing with voice that you can find in the Baroque repertoire, as most people seem to agree, unofficially. >
I don't agree. It's true that many people seem to agree to this idea, but I can't see why. Bach's vocal writing is far from the instrumental, much more than Haendel's. See, for example, "Ev'ry Valley shall be Exalted" or "Rejoice Greatly" (Messiah). They are almost "concerti" for solo voices. 'Au contraire', "Mache dich mein Herze rein" (St. Matthew's Passion) doesn't need a great vocal technique to be sung (of course, notice that I didn't write "to be well sung"), nor "Ich will dir mein Herze Schenken".

Christopher Rosevear wrote (July 27, 2001):
< Juozas Rimas asked: Which evangelists/choirs would be better to start from? >
I remember being hit by Peter Pears; but there is an interesting discussion of interpretations at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV244-Richter.htm

Deryk Barker wrote (August 27, 2001):
[To Christopher Rosevear] Good heavens, why? Had you insulted Ben?

Constance Shacklock wrote (August 29, 2001):
< Dr David Lampson noted: Everyone knows, or at least I thought everyone knows, that Pete was Ben's enforcer. Cross Ben, and a visit from Pete was the dreaded consequence. >
I can tell you something even more terrifying. Cross Peter, and you could expect a knock at the door from Imogen Holst!

Ah, dear, dear Imo. I often think she would have made a great 'mafiosa'. She used to make me laugh so much with her Damon Runyon impressions, I almost died! This talent for mimicry obviously ran in the family: her father, the great composer Gustav (of whom some of you may have heard) did a faultless impression of Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth over the fish course every Sunday.

He also made astrological charts for close friends - and woe betide you if Uranus was in conjunction with Mars! This curious interest had a musical consequence in a reasonably well-known piece called "The Planets" which some of you may know. (Imo once told me that she had Mercury rising, but I put it down to the inclement weather Aldeburgh was having at the time.)

Ah, Dr Lampson - how you bring those fragrant memories back in flocks!


Chronology of SMP recordings

Johann Sebastian Bach wrote (October 23, 2001):
Alan Blyth's anthology "Choral Music on Records" contains an exhaustive, choronological critical discography that includes all of the recordings of the "Saint Matthew Passion" through about 1990, and John W. Barker has recently written a critical discography of the more recent recordings that you can get from "American Record Guide". There is also an interesting discussion of the history of the work on recordings in Martin Elste's unfortunately error-ridden "Meilensteine der Bach-Interpretation 1750-2000", which was published by Metzler and Barenreiter last year.

Aryeh Oron wrote (October 23, 2001):
[To JSB] I have compiled from various sources a list of all the recordings of SMP
from the very first to the very last (60 in total!). You can see it in the following page of the Bach Cantatas Website: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV244.htm

If you are aware of any recording of SMP which is not listed there, please send me (or to the BRML) the relevant details and I shall update the list.

Jouzas Rimas wrote (October 23, 2001):
[To Aryeh Oron] The 1958 Richter's version is hands down the best in the bass arias - when you have Fischer-Dieskau, you can take it for granted. I will compile an MP3 CD of St. Matthew's passion for myself with best performances of particular parts in my opinion, and there's no doubt that I'll include the four Dieskau SMP arias (if I manage to find the recording on a CD - I have it on an LP) - it's one of the few cases when one can choose something without bothering to listen and check other interpretations. It's strange how evident Dieskau's monopoly in the baritone-bass field is... There were several great pianists, violinists, tenors but only ONE bass-baritone in the 20th century - objectively :)

Kirk McElhearn wrote (October 23, 2001):
< Aryeh Oron wrote: I have compiled from various sources a list of all the recordings of SMP from the very first to the very last (60 in total!). >
In a way, that does not seem like very many, for such a great work...

< 46 Stephen Cleobury >
This one is also available on Regis Records in the UK. It was originally recorded for them, and Brilliant licensed it for their set.

Teri Noel Towe wrote (October 23, 2001):
[To Aryeh Oron] Your discography is an admirable accomplishment, to put it mildly, and you are indeed to be congratulated, but it nevertheless is missing a significant number of commercial recordings, and, if you include live performances known to have been recorded, as you do, there are quite a few more, including a live, complete and uncut SMP conducted by Ramin that was recorded by Radio Saarbrucken in 1955, a concert performance, complete and uncut, in English, conducted by Pablo Casals and broadcast over WNYC in New York in 1963 or 1964, and a fabulous performance that Joshua Rifkin and the Bach Ensemble gave at the University of North Carolina in 1984 and that was broadcast by North Carolina Public Radio.

Among the commercially issued live performances that appear to be missing from your list is a concert recording of Karl Richter on tour in Japan. To the best of my somewhat limited knowledge, this recording was published only on LP, and only in Japan. The label is Japanese DG Archiv. (I wish that someone would locate and issue on DVD the video recordings of the SMP and the B Minor Mass that Richter did in the late 60s or early 70s!)

Among the commercial recordings that appear to be missing is the very first one, Victor set M-138, which is sung in English, severely abridged, and with the organ accompaniment played on the organ. The tenor solos are sung -- and very beautifully, too, in my opinion -- by Allan Jones, who will be familiar to movie buffs as the singing actor who played the romantic male lead opposite Kitty Carlisle in the Marx Brothers masterpiece "A Night at the Opera". This recording dates from the early 1930s.

Among the later commercial releases that are missing is the first Eric Ericsson recording from the mid 1960s that appeared only on Swedish EMI.

The basic information on these recordings and several others is to be found in the Blyth anthology and in Elste's "Meilsteine".

I will e-mail you more specifics when I can.

I paraphrase my comment at the outset: Congratulations for sharing with all who areinterested such a stellar discographic achievement!

Francine Ren Hall wrote (October 24, 2001):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thank you so much for the great SMP chronology. I see that Harnoncourt's is from 1970, and the Mauersberger (which I received thanks to your wonderful help) SMP immediately follows. Now that I've listened to the Muersberger cantatas I will be at attention when listening to Bach's Passion. (P.S. I hope all the recitatives don't break up the great choral flows. You know, one can track for the great arias and choral parts only!) Thanks again!


Regarding the Matthäus-Passion

Juozas Rimas wrote (February 24, 2002):
Are there any recordings of this work without the evangelist parts (the half-spoken ones). Or would it be regarded as a sacrilege?

The evangelist parts constitute a little more than a full hour, according to my calculations (the rest being almost 182 minutes) based on K. Richter's 1958 recording.

Do the spoken passages exclusively ritual function? Do you listen to them (especially in German recordings if you don't know German)? I find myself pushing buttons when listening to the Passion to omit them way too often. Do I miss something?

Donald Satz wrote (February 24, 2002):
[To Juozas Rimas] I don't know of any St. Matthews without the evangelist sections which are considered an integral part of the drama.

Aryeh Oron wrote (February 24, 2002):
[To Juozas Rimas] There are at least 76 complete recordings of Matthaus-Passion. You can see a list of them in the following page of the Bach Cantatas Website: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV244-Rec6.htm

None of the performers who recorded this work dared eliminating the Evangelist's part. Even Mendelssohn, whose 1841 version I heard last Friday in Tel-Aviv (conducted by Spering), cut 5 (1841 version) to 10 (1829 version) arias, but retained most of the Evanglist's part. There are, of course, recordings of individual arias from this sublime work, but I guess that this is not what you mean. You can always burn your own version (without Evangelist) from one of the recordings you like.

Charles Francis wrote (February 24, 2002):
[To Aryeh Oron] Helmuth Rilling has issued a version of his first MP recording on Sony Classical (SBK 46544) called 'Arias and Choruses'. It lasts some 77 minutes, but doesn't have any chorales.

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 24, 2002):
Juozas Rimas Jr inquired: < Are there any recordings of this work *without* the evangelist parts (the half-spoken ones). Or would it be regarded as a sacrilege? >
I have an Erato 4509-94676 MP Excerpts almost completely devoid of recitatives/Evangelist sections, with Ton Koopman conducting the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and with soloists: Schlick, Wessel, Pregardien, Mertens. I would have preferred to have had the entire work, but this was all that was available at the time I bought it.

< Do the spoken passages exclusively ritual function? Do you listen to them (especially in German recordings if you don't know German)? I find myself pushing buttons when listening to the Passion to omit them way too often. Do I miss something? >
The recitative-like singing passages of the Evangelist are not spoken and demand a special type of voice that can offer an expressive delivery of the text. When this is done properly, these Evangelist sections can be very moving indeed, but with the wrong type of voice, or one poorly trained, the musical expression of these words can become excruciating (no pun intended) and almost unbearable. However, you may be missing a lot by not including the evangelist when the performance is a good one.

Aryeh's comment is good advice to follow. In my experience, almost every SMP that I have heard demonstrates weaknesses and strengths in one area or another, but there are some definite outstanding performances that one would wish to have readily available. A case in point: I have just finished listening to Karajan's 1950 SMP (Urania 22.185) that I had recently purchased despite the negative criticisms that I have read about his Bach performance style. The Evangelist, Walther Ludwig, is very good and the two female soloists, Irmgard Seefried, and Kathleen Ferrier, are simply 'out of this world.' But the large choir and orchestra segments are truly abominable. In this case I would skip all those segments plus the bass soloists and burn only the sections that I have mentioned onto another disk.

Robert Sherman wrote (February 24, 2002):
[To Juozas Rimas] The Evangelist parts of both SMP and SJP, and the interplay between the Evangelist and Jesus, are among the most magnificent music anywhere. I say this as an ignostic who has no interest in religion as such.

In the Richter performance, Ernst Haefliger sings the role beyond perfection. In no sense is this half-spoken. It is singing at its absolute best, with endless vocal nuances to express the text. If you cut this out, you will be missing the essence of the SMP.

The recitatives also set the context for the arias and chorales. Without the dramatic narrative that goes before, ultimate arias such as "Es ist Vollbracht" in SJP would lose much of their impact.

I can understand, though, that if you can't follow the text, much of the recitatives will not reach you. The translations that usually come with these recordings are of little help. Ditto for two-language vocal scores. They are "good English" --- or at least what the translator thought was good -- whereas what listeners need is a straight literal word-for-word translation retaining the German syntax so you can follow the singer. I
suggest the following:

1) Get a literal translation. This means either doing it yourself with a German-English dictionary, or getting a friend who knows German to spend an hour typing it out for you.

2) With this translation at hand, study it and listen to the recording until you can hear the recording and "think in German" with this very small vocabulary without mental translation into English. If you read music, going through the score a few times with literal English written in while hearing the music in your head will help a lot.

This sounds like a lot of work. But the payoff is immense.

Ricardo Nughes wrote (February 24, 2002):
< Juozas Rimas wrote: Are there any recordings of this work without the evangelist parts (the half-spoken ones). Or would it be regarded as a sacrilege? >
Not a sacrilege, but an artistical nonsense : recitativi are the Bach Passions'backbone (the same for the cantatas and the other vocal works). They're sung, not half-spoken. I've never bought a CD featuring highlights from Bach vocal music, they're useless (IMO): you lose the unity of the work and you can't follow correctly the continuo. This is what Italian musicologist P. Buscaroli wrote about Bach's recitativi (comparing them with the ones featured in Telemann's Passions):
"The abyss (between Bach & Telemann) is revelated by the recitativi: these are, in Bach, his most original musical means, while in Telemann they (the recitativi) decline to an endless list, deadly boring."

< do you listen to them (especially in German recordings if you don't know German)? >
Of course, it could be a first step to learn German! I agree with what Bob S. wrote in a previous message : follow his suggestions , it's the right thing to do. MP will appear to you more beautiful than ever.

John Grant wrote (February 24, 2002):
< Thomas Braatz wrote: "The recitative-like singing passages of the Evangelist are not spoken and demand a special type of voice that can offer an expressive delivery of the text. When this is done properly, these Evangelist sections can be very moving indeed, but with the wrong type of voice, or one poorly trained, the musical expression of these words can become excruciating (no pun intended) and almost unbearable. However, you may be missing a lot by not including the evangelist when the performance is a good one." >
Yes, exactly my experience. For me the recitatives raise the level of expectation or anticipation for what is to follow. For example, the recitatives preceding "Ich will bie meinem Jesu wachen -" seem to me to culminate in that glorious musical moment. I'm listening to Munchinger, not the best reading, I'm sure, but terrific voices (Ameling, Hoffgen, Pears, Prey, Wunderlich). The recitatives certainly work to proper effect in this reading!

Neil wrote (February 25, 2002):
Juozas Rimas noted (message 4833) "the evangelist parts (in the SMP) constitute a little more than a full hour...."

Is this true?

I remember taking a friend, who knew little about classical music, to a performance of the SMP years ago, and her comment was the bits for choir and orchestra, and the arias, were good, but the recitatives were horribly boring, a sentiment with which I agree.

Perhaps there is a message in this for the recording companies. Maybe there is a market for performances of the passions and cantatas without the recitatives, on modern instuments, for those who like big, rich, complex sounds. (Remember, 'popular' music such as "careless whispers" by George Michael, and "fantasy" by Black Box, fulfill these criteria, so the market could be huge.

What has happened to recordings of Bach's organ music. I have an LP of Marcel Dupre at the Cavaille-Coll organ in St. Sulpice, Paris (one of the largest in Europe), playing the great E minor , A minor etc.; fabulous music - I never hear music like this on the radio these days. Organ music seems to have died.

I note from a previous post that the "authentic music movement" is dwindling. Is this true? Why would this be so? Andrew Parrot wants to reduce the forces required to realise (Bach's) music, even though ordinary music lovers probably come to music such as the Sanctus from the Mass in B minor in order to be blown away, not to sit there thinking "gee, are'nt I lucky being able to hear this music the exact way Bach heard it 300 years ago".

Kirk McElhearn wrote (February 25, 2002):
< Robert Sherman wrote: The Evangelist parts of both SMP and SJP, and the interplay between the Evangelist and Jesus, are among the most magnificent music anywhere. >
I have to agree. I once felt that I didn't need to listen to them - and I made a cassette recording of an SMP without them. But it didn't work; it was just a series of arias and chorales without any structure. The recitatives hold all that together, and, with a good singer, they are ethereal and magnificent.

Robert Sherman wrote (February 25, 2002):
< Neil wrote: Why would this be so? Andrew Parrot wants to reduce the forces required to realise (Bach's) music, even though ordinary music lovers probably come to music such as the Sanctus from the Mass in B minor in order to be blown away, not to sit there thinking "gee, are'nt I lucky being able to hear this music the exact way Bach heard it 300 years ago". >
My view on that, which is in the minority but so be it, is that you get more blown away in the b minor by small forces than large. Wagner and Mahler were written for massive forces and sound best that way. But in baroque a large orch and chorus muddies the sound and you actually hear less than you do with small forces. At the same time, I agree that historicity shouldn't be the goal and I strongly prefer modern instruments because, among other things, of their larger dynamic range.

Peter Bright wrote (February 25, 2002):
[To Robert Sherman] Just a very short message to say that I greatly enjoy Parrot's B minor mass on Virgin, but Richter's on Archiv is among the top three or four performances/recordings I have ever heard - an astonishing set and probably my favourite of all Richter's work. There is a place for both types of performance practice and I would hate to be without either.

Teri Noel Towe wrote (February 25, 2002):
[To Aryeh Oron] You have overlooked something obvious: recordings of excerpts; Single 12" black discs of "highlights" or "Querschnitten" were very common thirty-five years ago. If you check my critical discographies, you will find allusions to a few of them, even though I included no listings for those that were derived from complete recordings to which I had access. These recordings of excerpts rarely, if ever, included any of the secco recitatives.

From BWV 244, off of the top of my head, I can think of two such LPs of highlights - Karl Forster, and the Estonian LP conducted by someone named Dumins, as I recall. In neither one of these will you hear anything from the Evangelist.

Whoever initiated this thread has not, apparently, stopped to consider the enormity of the opposite approach.

Many years ago, I embarked on the task of assembling a recording that contained nothing but the Biblical text that Bach set, omitting all of the Picander poetry. This assemblage of the narrative, primarily the Evangelist, of course, but with Jesus and the other "characters" and the turba choruses a significant part, is an emotionally shattering sequence of musical numbers that borders on the unbearably, because you do not have the emotional "leavening" or release that the ariosos, arias, and large choruses provide as one is led through the narrative. The chorales serve a similar "purging" purpose.

Juozas Rimas wrote (February 25, 2002):
I didn't expect so many replies, so I'd even preventively cross-posted to Lampson's list (sorry for that)...

< In the Richter performance, Ernst Haefliger sings the role beyond perfection. In no sense is this half-spoken. It is singing at its absolute best, with endless vocal nuances to express the text. If you cut this out, you will be missing the essence of the SMP. >
Well, if Haefliger's evangelist is generally regarded to be good, I won't have to start "digging" evangelist sections in other recordings. Richter was lucky to have the best guy for the bass arias - he could sing one note and I would listen to him. It's a pity Diskau is not supposed to sing evangelist parts :) Haefliger doesn't grip my heart so instantly and firmly as Diskau, I'd never call his voice divine.

< translation retaining the German syntax so you can follow the singer. I suggest the following: >
Well, I do know minimal German (an obligatory weekly lesson in all Lithuanian schools, by the way :) so the translation won't be a problem. It's just I hasn't felt the necessity for the translation of arias so far - music was good enough on its own. For evangelist the literal translation must be a prerequisite.

< This sounds like a lot of work. But the payoff is immense. >
Listening to Bach is a lot of work for the most part and is rewarding (as an axiom). Aryeh Oron's signature quote by Forkel is dead on.

Thanks for the suggestions!

Pete Blue wrote (February 25, 2002):
[To Juozas Rimas] Do you think you might like the Evangelist parts better if they were in English? Leonard Bernstein recorded a complete SMP in English. You can find a few sound samples on Amazon.com. To me it sounds too much like a Händel oratorio the way David Lloyd sings it, but others may disagree.

Robert Sherman wrote (February 25, 2002):
[To Juozas Rimas] The evangelist is always a tenor, of course, and in the SMP it goes up to high b-natural. So it wouldn't be Fischer-Dieskau's thing. DFD does sing Jesus on the Forster SJP recording but, while I'm a great fan of DFD, in that case I was a bit disappointed. There he sounds a bit dry and uninspired compared to Hermann Prey with Richter. Similarly, Fritz Wunderlich -- who is "wonderful" as the evangelist in Richter's Christmas Oratorio -- on Forster's SJP is not in the same league as Haefliger with Richter.

Pete Blue wrote (February 25, 2002):
[To Pete Blue] I don't see anything inherently prohibitive about doing the Passions in English if (this is a very big if) the translation fits the music as well as does the German. The problem would be that Bach wrote for the German text, and it may not be possible to fit English words without losing either dramatic impact or connection with the music.

But in any case, the fact is that vast majority of Bach Passion recordings are in German. So if you want a population from which to choose a fine recording, German is what you have to work with.

Donald Satz wrote (February 25, 2002):
[To Neil] Bach's organ music might be dead on the radio; I can't recall every hearing anof it here on the classical station in Albuquerque over the past 12 years. However, it's alive and well on disc - you hear it when you want to, not when some programmer feels like throwing it your way.

As for the "authentic music movement", it isn't dwindling at all except to those who hate HIP and delude themselves into thinking that it's a fade which will eventually fade out.

Don't think you can get 'blown away' by Parrott's B minor Mass? Just come to my home and put on my headphones; I'll play Parrott, and you'll feel like you've been blown into the next county.

Neil wrote (February 27, 2002):
Robert Sherman wrote " ..in baroque a large orch and chorus muddies the sound
and you actually hear less than you do with small forces."
To the extent this actually happens on a recording (ie, muddying of sound), your comment is an important factor to consider, but this is as much a problem of engineering and the technicalities of recording, as a problem of the size of the forces. Of course I am not arguing for Mahler size forces, but one voice per part in music with the massive architecture of the sanctus (from the B minor mass - written on up to 17 staves!) surely fails to realise Bach's vision.

Pleased to see others prefer modern instruments for, among other things, the larger dynamic range that you mention.

Neil wrote (February 27, 2002):
[To Peter Bright] My thanks to Peter Bright for mentioning Richter's Archiv recording of the B minor mass. It sounds like what I am looking for. Is this available on a CD set?

Peter Bright wrote (February 27, 2002):
[To Neil] Richter's recording is widely available on a 2 CD set (sorry I don't have the catalogue no. to hand). You may be interested to read other reviews at the jsbach.org site:
http://www.jsbach.org/masskarl.html

By the way, prepare yourself for an *extremely* slow opening kyrie – the tempo of subsequent movements are relatively brisk.

Details of a televised performance of the B minor mass by Richter (which I haven't seen) can be found at:
http://www.unitel.classicalmusic.com/uhilites/1996/021596.htm

Harry J. Steinman wrote (February 27, 2002):
[To Neil] Neil: I'm a fan of the 1958 Richter recording of the SMP. Very large forces and crystal clear. Powerful, moving. I have it as part of the attractively-priced 10 CD set, "JS Bach, Sacred Masterpieces" (Polygram 463701) that also includes the John Passion, Christmas Oratorio, B Minor Mass and Magnificat.

BTW, I tend to prefer small forces, OVPP, but Richter's work just floors me. Play it loud!!

Kirk McElhearn wrote (February 27, 2002):
< Peter Bright wrote: Details of a televised performance of the B minor mass by Richter (which I haven't seen) can be found at: http://www.unitel.classicalmusic.com/uhilites/1996/021596.htm >
I don't think I have seen this one, but I have seen Richter's SMP - it is overbearing in its religious symbolism. It was filmed on a soundstage with a huge, white cross above the musicians. While musically it is interesting, visually it is a bit much.

Neil wrote (February 27, 2002):
Don wrote "Just come to my home and put on my headphones, I'll play Parrott, and you'll feel like you've been blown into the next county."

LOL, thanks for the laugh, Don. Well, it's obvious from your feelings about HIP that we will have the two main performance "traditions" for some time yet!

Jim Saunders wrote (February 27, 2002):
[To Juozas Rimas] I don't understand German either, except for a few words. But I can't imagine a Passion without the narrative portions. If they are well-sung, they convey the emotion and movement of the story. If you are bored by them, perhaps you are not hearing the best performances? My personal favorites are Howard Crook (Herreweghe's 1985 recording) and Anthony Rolfe Johnson (John Eliot Gardiner). Try a couple of perfomances, and try the work in small doses to start.

Good luck!

Doris Howe wrote (February 27, 2002):
Juozas Rimas wrote: < Are there any recordings of this work without the evangelist parts (the half-spoken ones). Or would it be regarded as a sacrilege? >
I don't know about "sacrilege", but I think that if I hadn't sung in this in my youth, in English - as part of Canterbury Choral Society, I too would skip past the recitative. But somehow now it seems incomplete without it,even if it is broadcast in German.. I don't know about recording of this work tho'I haven't one. I prefer to hear it live if possible..

Robert Sherman wrote (February 28, 2002):
[To Neil] I agree. IMO about 8 voices per part works best for the large baroque works.

But also listen to the way Rilling handles the finale of Cantata BWV 21. He starts with OVPP (soloists singing the choral part) and then progressively brings in the full choir, although at spots you can still hear the solo soprano above the choir. The soloists aren't famous, and maybe they're helped by spot-miking, but they sing their hearts out and the total effect is about the most thrilling Bach I've heard anywhere. Unbeatable modern trumpet playing, too.

Everyone should have this recording.

Pablo Massa wrote (February 28, 2002):
Juozas Rimas wrote: < Are there any recordings of this work without the evangelist parts (the half-spoken ones). Or would it be regarded as a sacrilege? >
I suppose those recordings exists actually. But you'll miss a lot of the work.

< The evangelist parts constitute a little more than a full hour, according to my calculations (the rest being almost 182 minutes) based on K. Richter's 1958 recording.
Do the spoken passages exclusively ritual function? >
No more than the rest of the work, as far as I know.

< Do you listen to them (especially in German recordings if you don't know German)? >
I don't know German, but I always listen the recitatives as an indivisible part of the work. When I did it for the first time, I followed a translation (after a good "reprise" of of Matthew's biblical text) and later, the general score. In fact, the little german I know is due to Bach's Passions!.

< I find myself pushing buttons when listening to the Passion to omit them way too often. Do I miss something? >
Yes: you miss all the narrative. Listening the whole work (and the narrative) gives you the precise dramatic context of every chorus and aria. Believe me, they sound completely different. Besides, the recitatives are very beautiful, especially at some moments: "Meine seele ist betrubt" or "Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani", the account of Peter's denial, the dialogues between Jesus and Pilatus, and many others.

You may try the following "method" (it worked good to me):

a) Read again Matthew, chapters 27 and 28.

b) Listen the whole work, following a translation of the text.

c) After a while doing that, you may listen the whole work following a
general score.

Try to do it once, and you'll want to do it almost always.

Relation between text and music in SMP

Juozas Rimas wrote (February 25, 2002):
I understand that Bach wrote SMP according a given text and not vice versa but
what was the relationship between the composer and the text writer? Were they
contemporaries?

Did they work together in a form of negotiation ("change that word a bit, too
many "sch" sounds in one line") or was the text a strict instruction for Bach to
write music according the events, mood changes and emphases installed in the
text?

Sybrand Bakker wrote (February 26, 2002):
[To Juozas Rimas] The text of the SMP consists of The Gospel of St. Matthew, chapters 26-27, free poetry by Picander (pseudonym of Christian Friedrich Henrici, postmaster in Leipzig at the time of Bach), and chorales, likely selected by Bach. The free poetry was expected to conform to the doctrines of the Lutheran church.

There are however poems known by Picander, who were not written for Bach, they demonstrate much less quality. It is quite likely, though it can't be proven, Bach and Picander worked together, and they kept in touch with local ministers.

was definitely writing music according to the text, in many places the notes exemplify and explain the text.

And, BTW, to leave out the Evangelist, the narrator of the story in Matthew 26 and 27, I would definitely consider that sacrilege.Such a thing which is usually done by 'Classical' radio stations like Classic FM and the like.

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 26, 2002):
< Sybrand Bakker wrote: Bach was definitely writing music according to the text, in many places the notes exemplify and explain the text. And, BTW, to leave out the Evangelist, the narrator of the story in Matthew 26 and 27, I would *definitely* consider that sacrilege. >
Yes...not just sacrilege, but destroying the drama and making it moot that this is a Passion. How else could we get from the exquisite soprano aria "Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben" to the diametrically opposed chorus "Lass ihn kreuzigen!" five seconds later, if not for the line of recitative that connects them and explains why the mood is changing so violently?

The "evangelist" in the Passions is like the "testo" (narrator) in Italian opera 100 years before Bach: without him, there's no drama.

-----

Incidentally, the St Matthew Passion (1672) by Johann Sebastiani (1622-1683) also has an evangelist in it; so does the St Matthew Passion by Heinrich Schutz (1585-1672).... Bach's SMP is in a long tradition here.

The Sebastiani SMP has been available in a beautiful performance by the Ricercar Consort directed by Pierlot: Ricercar 160144 from 1985.

François Haidon wrote (February 27, 2002):
"Incidentally, the St Matthew Passion (1672) by Johann Sebastiani (1622-1683) also has an evangelist in it; so does the St Matthew Passion by Heinrich Schutz (1585-1672).... Bach's SMP is in a long tradition here."

Does the Schütz feature anything else text-wise? I have a recording (Mauersberger!) of his Luke Passion from around the same time (very late in his long life that is)... It features no arias, the Dresdner Knabenchor only sing the interventions of the crowd and the disciples. Furthermore this hour-long straightforward setting of the biblical text is sung entirely a capella... And then people complain about Bach's recitatives! ;)

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 27, 2002):
[To François Haidon] The Schütz setting of the SMP is a cappella, even the recitatives (a spooky effect). The recording I have of that one is the inexpensive Point Classics disc by the Württemberg Chamber Choir: http://shopping.yahoo.com/shop?d=c&cf=0&id=201529

The score appears to be available here: http://www.oup.co.uk/hirecat/Schutz/

I haven't heard Telemann's SMP. Or the 20th century settings by Ernst Pepping or Trond Kverno. Anyone?

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 27, 2002):
Brad commented: < The Schütz setting of the SMP is a cappella, even the recitatives (a spooky effect). The recording I have of that one is the inexpensive Point Classics disc by the Württemberg Chamber Choir: http://shopping.yahoo.com/shop?d=c&cf=0&id=201529
The score appears to be available here: http://www.oup.co.uk/hirecat/Schutz/

I haven't heard Telemann's SMP. Or the 20th century settings by Ernst Pepping or Trond Kverno. Anyone? >
In the BWV 92 discussion, I commented on a link between one of the earliest SMP from the 16th century (Claudin de Sermisy) and Bach's SMP:

"With the exception of an anonymous SJP published by Attaingnant , Claudin composed the only passion (SMP) of the 16th century that included several vocal parts (up to 4 for the turbae.) But it was through his secular chansons that Claudin achieved recognition throughout Europe. His melodies became so popular that many composers such as Clemens non Papa, J. Handl, and Orlando di Lasso would take these chansons and ‘rework’ them to be included in masses. A similar direction was taken by one of his chansons that made it become one of J.S. Bach’s favorite subjects for treatment in his cantatas, and even, you might have guessed it, in Bach’s SMP."

Rob Potharst wrote (February 27, 2002):
< Bradley Lehman wrote: I haven't heard Telemann's SMP. Or the 20th century settings by Ernst Pepping or Trond Kverno. Anyone? >

Last night I was present at a performance of Frank Martin's "Golgotha" here in Amsterdam. It was very moving and spectacular. Just like SMP it fills the whole evening, but unlike SMP it takes its gospel texts from the books of Mattheus and Johannes, plus commentaries from Augustinus. Talking about recitatives: in this piece, there is not a single voice that recites the gospel text. Sometimes it is done by the choir, sometimes by alternating soloists and even sometimes by a couple of soloists together. For me the most strange thing was to hear that same text that I heard so often in the SMP and the SJP sung in French! The whole thing starts with a very moving opening chorus, that starts with "Père, père!". If you hit upon this piece some time, get ahold of it!

Bye, and back to lurkdom,

Charles Francis wrote (February 27, 2002):
I once sat through a live performance of Schütz's SMP and must confess to owning a couple of versions on CD. But being honest, this is just about the most boring Passion music ever penned. Endless recitatives with only the occassional exisite polyphonic moment to break the monotony. Maybe it was a reworking of an earlier composition for Lent?

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 27, 2002):
[To Charles Francis] Charles, I agree with you. The SMP doesn't have the delightful bits one expects from Schütz...and the drama of it is dull, too. Austere to the point of "who cares?" (I hate to say that about a composer whose work I otherwise like very much.)

Maybe Schütz was trying to anticipate the austerity of Arvo Part's SJP? :) But Part's measured austerity works where Schütz' doesn't.

François Haidon wrote (February 27, 2002):
Brad Lehman wrote: "I haven't heard Telemann's SMP. Or the 20th century settings by Ernst Pepping or Trond Kverno. Anyone?
Telemann wrote a Passion a year or so for a long time, reaching the grand total of 46 settings, with a few Matthaeus settings... I only have the one from 1746, it sounds like what you would more or less expect from him. if I may venture into a rather daring comparison, if Bach turned the Matthaeus Passion into an opera, I guess Telemann's could be called a musical of sorts, with more varied, italianate (?) recitatives. Somewhat superficial and showy but still very enjoyable I think.

Bach Passions in English

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 25, 2002):
[To Robert Sherman] Jeannette Sorrell's recording of the St John Passion in English is good. Eclectra 2-CD set 2044, issued 1999.
http://www.apollosfire.org/discography.htm

In the liner notes Sorrell says, in part: "It is true, unfortunately, that English does not sound as beautiful as the original German when sung. But a listener who is dependent on reading a printed translation while listening will lose the immediate dramatic impact of the piece. It was customary in the 18th century for operas and oratorios to be translated when taken to a different country. Ideally, we North Americans and Brits would all be taught sufficient German, Italian and French in school to be able to understand the great works of Western art. Since that is not the case, I hope that this recording may fill a void for the many Anglophones who want to deepen their acquaintance with Bach's Passion music."

Thomas Radleff wrote (February 26, 2002):
<< Pete Blue wrote: Do you think you might like the Evangelist parts better if they were in English? Leonard Bernstein recorded a complete SMP in English >>
< Bradley Lehman wrote: In the liner notes Sorrell says, in part: "It is true, unfortunately, > that English does not sound as beautiful as the original German when sung. >
Some years ago I bought Benjamin Britten´s recording of St.John´s Passion, not knowing it was in Engli. The surprise was breathtaking, and when I regained my respiration, I was surprised once more: by the beauty of the chorusses, and even in some of the arias the English language seemed to fill the notes in a more flexible, smoother way than the German original. (Actually I feel, as a native German speaker, that English generally sounds more "musical".) But the Evangelist parts, with intelligent dramatic understatement formed by Peter Pears, sounded obviously "translated" to me and not as organic as, for example, the moving final chorus "Farewell" - "Ruhet wohl". As I don´t have the disc anymore, I cannot prove whether I remember well that the sound of the orchestra came rather flat and dry - certainly a non-HIP recording from the sixties... any remarks on it ?

Anthony J. Olszowy wrote (February 26, 2002):
[To Thomas Radleff] Yes, I too was taken in by the packaging and the fact that it was Benjamin Britten conducting. His interpretative ideas were worth the money (it was I believe a Decca "twofer" type of reissue), but very un-HIP (if I can be forgiven a very bad pun).

What struck me most was the translation. My German is weak, so it was an eye opener to hear the piece sung in English. The striking thing about it was how far the translator went to avoid the obvious (to me, anyway) translation solutions some parts of the text cry for; some phrasing comes out not as not particularly felicitous. For example, if my memory serves me correctly, the first word of the first chorus (of the final version) is translated as "Sire", instead of the more obvious "Lord". I suppose it doesn't really matter, but it did leave me wondering why it was done that way. I would rather spend my time wondering about some of Britten's unusual choices of phrasing and tempo, rather than the work of the translator. I think that a good translation should be invisible as such.

Robert Sherman wrote (February 26, 2002):
< Anthony J. Olszowy wrote: For example, if my memory serves me correctly, the first word of the first chorus (of the final version) is translated as "Sire", instead of the more obvious "Lord". I suppose it doesn't really matter, but it did leave me wondering why it was done that way. >
Particularly since "Sire" is so much of a less singable sound than "Lord."

These translations generally seem done by non-musicians, and it shows.



Continue on Part 5


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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