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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 6

Continue from Part 5

Compiling the "Dream St Matthew's Passion"

Juozas Rimas wrote (August 16, 2002):
I'm compiling my ultimate version of the SMP (I will burn it eventually from the CDs I possess) and would appreciate your opinions.

So far my recipe of the dish is the following:

Soprano recitatives and arias - E. Schwarzkopf from the 1961 Klemperer.
Bass recitatives and arias - D.F. Dieskau from the 1958 Richter.
Recitatives with Jesus - Dieskau from the 1961 Klemperer.

I have no doubts about the above. But the remaining portion of my "Dream St Matthew's Passion" is uncertain:

Evangelist parts - E. Haefliger from the 1958 Richter ?
First and last choruses - Herreweghe ?
Other choruses, chorals - Herrewghe ? Suzuki ? Gardiner ?
Tenor recitatives and arias - don't have a clue!
Alto recitatives and arias - K. Ferrier from the 1950 Karajan? (but the sound quality is bad, conducting, IMHO, is bad and Ferrier didn't amaze me although she's way better than any other musician on the set)

Thomas Boyce wrote (August 16, 2002):
[To Juozas Rimas] I love the Gardiner "Buss und Reu."

William D. asimer wrote (August 16, 2002):
< Soprano recitatives and arias - E. Schwarzkopf from the 1961 Klemperer. >
I'm not sure who I'd pick for these, but it wouldn't be Schwarzkopf...

< Bass recitatives and arias - D.F. Dieskau from the 1958 Richter. >
My choice would be Quasthoff, although I think that this is one of Fischer-Dieskau's best recordings.

< Recitatives with Jesus - Dieskau from the 1961 Klemperer. >
Goerne, with Harnoncourt.

< Evangelist parts - E. Haefliger from the 1958 Richter? >
Equiluz, from the first Harnoncourt recording, or Pregardien (several recordings, all superb).

< First and last choruses - Herreweghe ?
Other choruses, chorals - Herrewghe ? Suzuki ? Gardiner ? >
I'd have to think about this, but probably Rilling for all.

< Tenor recitatives and arias - don't have a clue! >
Equiluz again, although as far as I know, he only recorded the second recitative and aria "Mein Jesus schweigt...Geduld" with Swarowsky, on a recording that's never made it to CD. I haven't heard them in a while, but I remember liking Blochwitz (Herreweghe 1) and Anthony Rolfe Johnson (Corboz).

< Alto recitatives and arias - K. Ferrier from the 1950 Karajan? >
Off the top of my head, either Anne Sofie von Otter, or Christa Ludwig.

Moose 1960 wrote (August 16, 2002):
[To Juozas Rimas] At any time let the strings be equipped with gutt in stead of metal strings. Otherwise there no dream compilation possible.


Peter D. Daniels wrote (August 16, 2002):
[To Juozas Rimas] They're probably at a very wide variety of pitches, so you'll go crazy with each new movement.

There's a recording with Ferrier in English, too.

Andante Teneramente wrote (August 16, 2002):
[To Peter T. Daniels] Good point!

Also there's a variety of styles. The result might be like the beautiful white pair of shoes with the blue trousers with pinstripes together with the beautiful red shirt with the yellow flowers on it together with the beautiful green jacket with the silver stars...

Just wondering

Juozas Rimas wrote (August 16, 2002):
<< Juozas Rimas wrote: Alto recitatives and arias - K. Ferrier from the 1950 Karajan? >>
< William D. Kasimer wrote: Off the top of my head, either Anne Sofie von Otter, or Christa Ludwig. >
Well, von Otter is mentioned in two responses already (Gardiner's Buss und Reu mentioned in the previous post is alto if I remember correctly), so I think I'll have to get that Gardiner version for the alto arias and recitatives.

Ulvi wrote (August 16, 2002):
<< Juozas Rimas wrote: I'm compiling my ultimate version of Bach's St Matthew's Passion (I will burn it eventually from the CDs I possess) and would appreciate your opinions. >>
< Simon Roberts wrote: You don't think you would find it rather a jolt lurching between such diverse styles, orchestral sonorities, recorded sound and acoustics (not to mention pitches)? >
I always wanted to do the same thing with my piano WTC recordings; presumably the pitch would not be an issue there (or would it?). Fluctuating acoustics certainly may be annoying though...

At any rate, whenever I contemplate actually doing the work it just doesn't seem worth the time.

Matthew B. Tepper wrote (August 16, 2002):
< Juozas Rimas wrote: Alto recitatives and arias - K. Ferrier from the 1950 Karajan? (but the sound quality is bad, conducting, IMHO, is bad and Ferrier didn't amaze me although she's way better than any other musician on the set) >
Have you heard her commercial recording, conducted by Reginald Jacques? New transfer on Dutton if you can find it.

Bradley Lehman wrote (August 16, 2002):
I like Walter Berry's bass arias in the Woldike recording on Vanguard.

But it's hard for me to imagine a composite SMP being very satisfying to listen to (straight through)...mismatches of style, pitch, aura, sound quality, size of performing forces. The fluctuation of pitch alone would be disconcerting enough: some recorded SMPs are at A=440, some at A=415, some elsewhere.

Once for fun I put together a composite of the last movement of Beethoven's 7th symphony, switching conductors at each section. It didn't sound very good.

How often is a potluck buffet really satisfying as a meal, nutritionally and as an overall dining experience, as compared with a four-course dinner put together by a master chef, everything balanced? At a buffet or a salad bar you can grab eighteen different things, sure, but they don't fit together.

James Whiskeychan wrote (August 16, 2002):
Brad said:
< But it's hard for me to imagine a composite SMP being very satisfying to listen to (straight through)...mismatches of style, pitch, aura, sound quality, size of performing forces. >
and
< Once for fun I put together a composite of the last movement of Beethoven's 7th symphony, switching conductors at each section. It didn't sound very good. >
I did this with the Goldberg Variations. Sounded like a good idea. I have two of Glenn Gould's recordings, Angela Hewitt's, Rosalyn Turreck's, Ralph Kirkpatrick's and a couple more. I like some variations from each CD. I put together a CD from the ones I liked best. Does not sound as good as I thought it would. Maybe I need the Canadian Brass :-)

I was going to do the WTC next, but changed my mind.

Juozas Rimas wrote (August 16, 2002):
Does anyone know whether 90-min CDs play okay in regular CD players? It'd be nice to stuff the whole SMP compilation into 2 disks...

Juozas Rimas wrote (August 16, 2002):
< How often is a potluck buffet really satisfying as a meal, nutritionally and as an overall dining experience, as compared with a four-course dinner put together by a master chef, everything balanced? At a buffet or a salad bar you can grab eighteen different things, sure, but they don't fit together. >
I know the integrity will suffer but for me, the quality of soprano and bass arias in the recent HIP recordings is of a lower standard than in certain recordings of 1950s-60s. Dieskau and Schwarzkopf seem to me more physically gifted (for singing Bach in their respective pitches) than any of their successors I've heard.

However, choirs now sound considerably better than 40 years ago. These things are more important to me than the cohesiveness of a vast work that I never listen to wholly anyway.

On the other hand, I'm not going to mix, eg bass arias from several different versions, but rather take 1 version for all choirs, 1 version for all evangelist parts etc and produce a CD set to always have at hand.

Juozas Rimas wrote (August 16, 2002):
< James Whiskeychan wrote: I was going to do the WTC next, but changed my mind. >
Mmm, Goldbergs are of course too tight and cohesive for a medley. SMP does have continuity but the parts vary greatly in instrumentation etc

But why WTC? It's simply a collection of preludes and fugues. Is there any connection between them (eg between prelude and fugue No. 7 and No. 8)?

Donald Satz wrote (A16, 2002):
[To Juozas Rimas] If nothing else, the sound engineering is different for each recording. If you do the 'mix and match' routine, you would have to continuously re-adjust the audio controls to maximize listening enjoyment.

James Whiskeychan wrote (August 17, 2002):
[To Donald Satz] Yes. This was the most disappointing thing about my Goldberg CD.

Juozas Rimas wrote (August 17, 2002):
Well, I see your point, but I intend to use the compilation primarily as a handy set of two 90-min CDs (I hope they will play okay in all CD players?) to listen to a particular movement of the Passion.

Now I have to switch CDs like crazy DJ anyway :) I can't just sit and force myself to listen to a lousy voice in an aria after a marvelous choir.


Pete Blue wrote (August 17, 2002):
[To Juozas Rimas] I don't think any conventional CD has a capacity of more than 80 minutes, but I do possess a recording of the SMP on two CDs -- the one conducted by Hermann Max (Berkshire sells it cheap in the US). Besides getting the whole thing uncut onto two CDs, this recording has two other unique virtues: (1) a swift tempo for the opening chorus which turns it into a totally convincing Siciliano; and (2) a uniquely white-toned, minimum-vibrato soprano, Monika Frimmer, who is as effective as any SMP soprano I know, including my other fave, the treasurable Elisabeth Grummer on the Furtwangler.

Robert Sherman wrote (August 18, 2002):
[To Juozas Rimas] This is a great project! But one caution: In compiling my dream Messiah and other recordings I find it generally doesn't work to combine modern-instrument and allegedly-historical instrument recordings. It's not so much a question of style or sound -- you can select for those -- as it is of pitch. The difference in pitch is usually about a half-step. If you take the allegedly-original recordings and speed them up to A=440, the singers tend to sound chirpy. If you take the modern-instrument recordings and slow them down to drop the pitch, the singers sound woofy. This is much more of a problem with singers than with instruments. So I find I need two dream composites, one with modern and one with allegedly-historical.

One possible solution might be to adjust all recordings to an intermediate pitch of maybe a=430. I haven't tried that.

Robert Sherman wrote (August 18, 2002):
[To Donald Satz] You can do much of that as part of the transcription process


Robert Sherman wrote (August 18, 2002):
[To Bradley Lehman] Except for the pitch difference (see my last comment) IMO the discontinuity effect is not nearly as bad as you would think from the comments of those who have never put in the time and effort needed to make it work. If you just slap together excerpts from a bunch of recordings without carefully matching the technical and musical values, of course it will sound bad.

Switching in the middle of a movement of Beeth7 or whatever is particularly difficult; I rarely am able to make that work. But switching between sections of a major oratorio is a lot easier.

Within any given commercial recording, there are significant discontinuities from section to section. In a properly done "dream" composite, these discontinuities are no worse than on a commercial recording. When I play my Messiah composite for musically competent people without telling them it's a composite, nobody yet has noticed a mismatch.

But above all, there is no substitute for quality. You can get far high quality by taking the best of several dozen commercial recordings than you can ever find in a single recording.

Charles Francis wrote (August 18, 2002):
[To Robert Sherman] The "Amazing Slow Downer" can correct pitch errors in allegedly-historical recordings without introducing chirpiness. Moreover, while raising the pitch, it can simultaneously slow down the music, so its ideal for correcting the caffeinated tempos of allegedly-historical recordings! This total-HIP correction package can be obtained from: http://www.ronimusic.com

Robert Sherman wrote (August 19, 2002):
[To Chrales Francis] Thanks, Charles, I'll give it a try. Changing speed with Sound Forge produces terrible results. It would be great if "Amazing Slow Downer" works well.

Juozas Rimas wrote (August 19, 2002):
< This is a great project! But one caution: In compiling my dream Messiah and other recordings I find it generally doesn't work to combine modern-instrument and allegedly-historical instrument recordings. It's >
Well, my initial goal was a practical one, rather than making a balanced dream-compilation. I simply intended to use the compilation as a handy set of, preferably, two 90-min CDs to listen to a particular movement of the Passion in my favorite rendition quickly.

Now I have to switch CDs like crazy DJ anyway: I personally cannot just sit and force myself to listen to a lousy voice in an aria after a marvelous choir – I always take out the CD, and put in the rendition I like.

I listened twice to the Passion as a continuous work (Richter 1958, and the first Herreweghe) and I don't feel any desire for more continuous listens. Now I always listen to separate bits of the work.

Juozas Rimas wrote (August 19, 2002):
< The "Amazing Slow Downer" can correct pitch errors in allegedly-historical recordings without introducing chirpiness. Moreover, while raising the pitch, it can simultaneously slow down the music, so its ideal for correcting the caffeinated tempos of allegedly-historical recordings! This total-HIP correction package can be obtained from: http://www.ronimusic.com >
LOL, this software could be also known as "Gould normalizer" :) I understand it's a useful piece of software but it immediately reminded me of the joke site: http://www.unpronounceable.com/gould/ featuring the "Glenn Gould De-Vocalizer
2000" that removes humming without harming the recording :))

Robert Sherman wrote (August 22, 2002):
[To Juozas Rimas] Like Juozas, I would certainly rather listen to selected great segments than listen to the mixture of greatness, mediocrity, and junk that makes up almost every commercial oratorio recording.

Still, there is great additional value in listening to a great performance of a great work straight through. This is particularly true of the Passions with their intense dramatic narratives. Try it, you may like it!


Adding some bass!

Neil Halliday wrote (August 20, 2002):
I was listening to the beautiful soprano aria (from the SMP - Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben - Klemperer, Schwarzkopf) and found myself wishing for some violas and cellos after the Da Capo....the instrumentation is limited to 2 oboes and a flute throughout, but the music seems to call for more 'depth'. Or am I off the mark?

I wonder if anyone has made such an arrangement of this movement, perhaps like Mozart did with movements from the Messiah.

François Haidon wrote (August 20, 2002):
"I was listening to the beautiful soprano aria (from the SMP - Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben - Klemperer, Schwarzkopf) and found myself wishing for some violas and cellos after the Da Capo....the instrumentation is limited to 2 oboes and a flute throughout, but the music seems to call for more 'depth'. Or am I off the mark?"
I personnaly love that aria's sparse instrumentation, some of the most timeless music Bach ever composed I think. Adding strings would only add bombast, I think. Again, if you look at larger picture, it seems obvious that he wants to give the listener a reflecting pause in the middle of all the anger (Barrabas' release and the mob's call for Jesus' crucifying). Thus I think it is important that the music should remain emotionnaly sober and collected; the "Lass ihn kreuzigen!" that comes just after is all the more terrific, I think.

"I wonder if anyone has made such an arrangement of this movement, perhaps like Mozart did with movements from the Messiah."
I wonder what Mendelssohn did with this aria in his own performing version; if he kept at all, he may have made changes, but alas I've never heard it.

Riccardo Nughes wrote (August 20, 2002):
[To Juozas Rimas] This is Bach MP, there is no need of arrangements.


SMP – Division of Vocal Parts

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 11, 2003):
SMP Division of Vocal Parts (according to the original set of parts – with NBA numbering of the sections – the extra parts, B1, B2, B4, B8, B9 are very limited and contain only the parts mentioned)

This may be of interest to those that are listening to the McCreesh recording as it shows precisely how the vocal parts (solo and ripieno, Choir 1 vs. Choir 2) are distributed

B1: Soprano in Ripieno
B2: Soprano in Ripieno
B3: Soprano, Chori 1mi
B4: Soprano {Ancilla 1 & 2, Uxor Pilati)
B5: Alto 1. Chori
B6: Tenore 1. Chori Evangelista
B7: Basso 1. Chori Jesus
B8: Basso Judas, Pontifex I
B9: Basso Petus, Pontifex {Kaiphas}, Pontifex 2 {Pilatus}


B23: Soprano Chori II.
B24: Alto Chori II.
B25: Tenore Chori II.
B26: Basso Chori II.

Mvt. 1: 1-3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 2 : 6-7
Mvt. 3: 5,7, 23-26
Mvt. 4a: 6
Mvt. 4b: 3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 4c: 6
Mvt. 4d: 3, 5-7
Mvt. 4e: 6-7
Mvt. 5: 5
Mvt. 6: 5 (“Buß und Reu”)
Mvt. 7: 6, 8
Mvt. 8: 23 (“Blute nur”)
Mvt. 9a: 6
Mvt. 9b: 3, 5-7
Mvt. 9c: 6-7
Mvt. 9d: 6
Mvt. 9e: 3, 5-7
Mvt. 10: 3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 11: 6-8
Mvt. 12: 3
Mvt. 13: 3 (“Ich will dir mein Herze”)
Mvt. 14: 6-7
Mvt. 15: 3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 16: 6-7, 9
Mvt. 17: 3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 18: 6-7
Mvt. 19: 6, 23-26
Mvt. 20: 6, 23-26 (“So schlafen unsre Sünden”)
Mvt. 21: 6-7
Mvt. 22: 26
Mvt. 23: 26
Mvt. 24: 6-7
Mvt. 25: 3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 26: 6-8
Mvt. 27a : 3, 5, 23-26 (”So ist mein Jesu”)
Mvt. 27b: 3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 28: 6, 7
Mvt. 29: 1-3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 30: 5, 23-26 (Part II ”Ach, nun ist”)
Mvt. 31: 6
Mvt. 32: 3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 33: 6, 9, 24-25
Mvt. 34: 25
Mvt. 35: 25 (”Geduld, Geduld”)
Mvt. 36a: 6-7, 9
Mvt. 36b: 3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 36c: 6
Mvt. 36d: 3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 37: 3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 38a: 4, 6, 9
Mvt. 38b: 23-26
Mvt. 38c: 6, 9
Mvt. 39: 5 (“Erbarme dich”)
Mvt. 40: 3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 41a: 6, 8
Mvt. 41b: 3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 41c: 6, 8-9
Mvt. 42: 26 (“Gebt mir meinen Jesum”)
Mvt. 43: 6-7, 9
Mvt. 44: 3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 45a: 3-7, 9, 23-26
Mvt. 45b: 3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 46: 3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 47: 6, 9
Mvt. 48: 3
Mvt. 49: 3 (“Aus Liebe”)
Mvt. 50a: 6
Mvt. 50b: 3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 50c: 6, 9
Mvt: 50d: 3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 50e: 6
Mvt. 51: 24
Mvt. 52: 24 (“Können Tränen”)
Mvt. 53a: 6
Mvt. 53b: 3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 53c: 6
Mvt. 54: 3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 55: 6
Mvt. 56: 7
Mvt. 57: 7 (”Komm, süßes Kreuz”)
Mvt. 58a: 6
Mvt. 58b: 3, 6-7, 23-26
Mvt. 58c: 6
Mvt. 58d: 3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 58e: 6
Mvt. 59: 5
Mvt. 60: 5, 23-26 (”Sehet”)
Mvt. 61a: 7
Mvt. 61b: 3, 5-7
Mvt. 61c: 6
Mvt. 61d: 23-26
Mvt. 61e: 6
Mvt. 62: 3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 63a: 6
Mvt. 63b: 3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 63c: 6
Mvt. 64: 7
Mvt. 65: 7 (”Mache dich, mein Herze”)
Mvt. 66a: 6
Mvt. 66b: 3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 66c: 6, 9
Mvt. 67: 3, 5-7, 23-26
Mvt. 68: 3, 5-7, 23-26

Alex Riedlmayer wrote (April 11, 2003):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
> B7: Basso 1. Chori Jesus
This distribution is entirely reasonable, yet it goes against modern sensibilities in allowing the vocalist who sings the words of Jesus to sing a recitative and aria after the death of Jesus is pronounced. Koopman used a similar argument against Parrott (regarding the SJP). it remains very weak, especially as Jesus is addressed in third person in both of the bass arias.

> B8: Basso Judas, Pontifex I
> B9: Basso Petus, Pontifex {Kaiphas}, Pontifex 2 {Pilatus}
This distribution of the extra parts is not crucial. Note that 'Pontifex' (that is, Kaiphas) is not the same role as 'Pontifex I' (mvt. 41c).

> B23: Soprano Chori II.
> B24: Alto Chori II.
> B25: Tenore Chori II.
> B26: Basso Chori II.
Note that #24 and #25 are the false witnesses (mvt. 33 in the Dürr numbering).

Charles Francis wrote (April 12, 2003):
[To Thomas Braatz] Am I correct in deducing from this that a One Voice Per Part recording would result in 13 singers (traditionally, the omen of ill-fate)?

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 12, 2003):
[To Charles Francis] Perhaps Bach was thinking of the (Jesus) bass part and the 12 disciples (of course, there were no women singing the soprano and alto parts.)


SMP / SMP comparison / SMP comparison on radio programs

Bernard Nys wrote (April 9, 2003):
Last Sunday I heard a radio broadcast with a blindful test comparison between 3 x SMP : Herreweghe (1999), Mc Creesh (2002), Harnoncourt (2001). The panel was : Jard Van Nes (Dutch soprano who has sung the SMP may times) & Florian Herian. They listened to 5 excerpts and after the first "round", the Mc Creesh was "out of business", unacceptably bad; Harnoncourt's tempo was too fast and Herreweghe was perfect. The panel agreed that Andreas Scholl was great in "Erbarme dich". There's a SMP in English that I recommend to everybody : the old Leonard Bernstein (1961) on Sony with warm, black female singing and an enormous amount of deep emotion! In German, I keep my Schreier 1984 recording. On DVD, I'm waiting for the ultimate recording...

Kirk McElhearn wrote (April 9, 2003):
< Bernard Nys wrote: Last Sunday I heard a radio broadcast with a blindful test comparison between 3 x SMP : Herreweghe (1999), Mc Creesh (2002), Harnoncourt (2001). The panel was : Jard Van Nes (Dutch soprano who has sung the SMP may times) & Florian Herian. They listened to 5 excerpts and after the first "round", the Mc Creesh was "out of business", unacceptably bad; Harnoncourt's tempo was too fast and Herreweghe was perfect. The panel agreed that Andreas Scholl was great in "Erbarme dich". >
Note that Harmonia Mundi just re-released the Herreweghe as a "catalog" CD set at a very low price...

Ehud Shiloni wrote (April 9, 2003):
[To Bernard Nys] Can you tell us what where the other 4 movements [aside from "Erbarme"] which came under consideration? Thanks

Joost wrote (April 10, 2003):
< Kirk McElhearn wrote: Note that Harmonia Mundi just re-released the Herreweghe as a "catalog" CD set at a very low price... >
This re-release is Herreweghe's first recording from 1985, and not his second from 1999 which was subject to the comparison in the broadcast Bernard was referring to.

joost (who prefers the 1985 recording)

Kirk McElhearn wrote (April 10, 2003):
[To Joost] Ah, thanks.

Bernard Nys wrote (April 11, 2003)
Concerning the radio broadcast SMP comparison, the professional panel based it's comments on 5 excerpts :
1. end opening chorus
2. So ist mein Jesus nun gefangen + Sind Blitze, sind Donner
3. Erbarme dich
4. 45a Auf das Fest - Barabbam - Lass ihn kreuzigen
5. end Nun ist der Herr zur Ruh gebracht + final chorus "Wir setzen uns..."

Verdict :
1. Herreweghe (1999) quality label, perfect
2. Harnoncourt (2001), good
3. Mc Creesh (2002), poor

Matthew Westphal wrote (April 12 2003):
[To Bernard Nys] Bernard, thanks very much for these details.

You said that early on in the program the two commentators simply dismissed the McCreesh as "unacceptably bad." To what exactly did they object? Did they mention anything in particular? Or did they just say, "We don't like this" and dismiss it?

Bernard Nys wrote (April 13, 2003):
[To Matthew Westphal] The problem with the Mc Creesh SMP was the fact that the panel (and me too) expected an overwhelming, massive, impressive chorus. I even appreciate very much the Von Karajan version with the whole Wiener Singverein, Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin & Knabenstimmen des Staats- und Domchores Berlin + the Berliner Philharmoniker. I wonder how many persons were involved in this recording ?! Certainly not HIP !!! Unless it means High Impact Personally.

Yesterday I went to a SMP live in Antwerp. Time to cry... My appreciation of this music is highly emotional, personal and subjective. And I like to be impressed by a huge double chorus and orchestra. I remind you that on the Glorious Bach DVD we see that even Harnoncourt uses now a big choir. I hate a small choir or worse, a boys choir.

Ruud de Vries wrote (April 13, 2003):
Tonight I listened to a comparison of three SMP recordings on a Dutch radiostation (A few days ago Bernard Nys spoke on this list about a comparison on a Belgium radiostation)

The professional panel had to give their opinion on the following three recordings. Only afterwards they wetold who were performing on which recording (although especially McCreesh recording isn't hard to guess):
A) Koopman, Nederlandse Bach Vereniging, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, Erato 1992
B) McCreesh, Gabrieli Consort & Players, Archiv 2003
C) Ozawa, Tokyo Opera Singers / Saito Kinen Orchestra, Philips 1997

They listened to Kommt ihr Töchter, So ist mein Jesus nun gefangen + Sind Blitze, sind Donner and finally to Gebt mir mein Jesum wieder
The formula of the program is that the panel have to sack one of the recordings after the first round and if they wish they can 'regroup' after the second round.

The panel liked Kommt ihr Töchter from Koopman very much. Great choir, good tempo, very good performance. Their only criticism was the strange doubling with the organ on the cantus firmus. They didn't like recording B (McCreesh) too much: the OVPP choir was dominating the orchestra far more than the 'normal' choir of recording A. In their opinion they made a mess of it with the mingle. The balance was unlike 'blood brother' Rifkin's recording of the Mass in B minor not good. For instance from the cantus firmus (O Lamm Gottes) you hear nearly nothing. Recording C (Ozawa) got the label outdated. Classical big orchestra, slow (though not extreme) and their major complaint was about the quality of the choir.

Before they started listening to So ist mein Jesus nun gefangen + Sind Blitze, sind Donner they 'sacked' Ozawa's recording. Mainly because they wanted to give McCreesh a second chance and recording C 'doesn't offer any news'.

After listening to the duet they praised Koopman again and hammered McCreesh even more than the first time. "A duet of boredom", "impossible (slow) tempo", "much too large organ", "unsound balance", "Matthäus the musical", "caricature". There main (serious) argument was the non-transparancy of the recording compared to Koopman, while McCreesh claims just that as one of the advantages of his approach.
About Koopman they said: "great lightness of decorations", "you hear everything".

For the final round they chose Ozawa over McCreesh of which they had enough. In Gebt mir mein Jesum wieder they liked the voices of both Klaus Mertens (Koopman) and Michael Volle (Ozawa). But they found Ozawa's accompaniment dutiful. One said: I can't say anything negative about Koopman even if I wanted to.

Their conclusions:
Koopman: Great recording
McCreesh: Total failure
Ozawa: Superfluous

Personal notes:
- It seems like the panel was a bit chauvinistic. In the duet the voices of Barbara Schlick and Kai Wessel don't melt together as good as Kozena and York and technically Barbara Schlick has some problems. But even here they only praised Koopman's recording.
- I went to a performance of the SMP by McCreesh two years ago. I liked it very much. With his recent record I was at least a little bit disappointed. The main reason IMO: the technicians pottered too much. Another: where Mark Padmore two years ago was the star of the show, now he overdoes it in my opinion. It seems to me that he has been praised too much and his grown self-confidence hasn't done him any good.
- For me as a whole I prefer Herreweghe (1984) and Richter (1958) over the three recordings mentioned above.

Johan van Veen wrote (April 14, 2003):
[To Ruud de Vries] Who were in the panel?

Ruud de Vries wrote (April 14, 2003):
[To Johan van Veen] Johan van Veen asked who were in the panel of the Dutch SMP comparison program. Well: Eduard van Regteren Altena (violi(ni)st), Wout van den Berg (flutist) and Maarten Brandt (music publicist and advisor).

Paul Dirmeikis wrote (April 15, 2003):
[To Ruud de Vries] These radio comparisons are interesting. It seems that Paul McCreesh is not very well rated... It's not surprising.

It reminds me reviews and radio programs when Harnoncourt's version was released in 1971. I especially remember the radio program "La Tribune des critiques de disques", on France Musique : the critic Antoine Goléa, almost choked to death, after hearing the Chorus N° 1 : "This is an OUTRAGE !! The SMP is NOT a Vienna waltz !!" And stating, after aria N° 49 (Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben), that he had never heard something more pathetically ridiculous than this soprano boy singing... He complained about the instruments being "out of tune", about their scrawny sound, etc. I particularly remember when this eminent and respected critic (he was a violin player) asserted that "the oboe da caccia wasn't anything else than a simple bass clarinet"...

As a conclusion of this comparison (5 or 6 different versions, I think), Karajan's interpretation was claimed to be (and most probably to remain) the nec plus ultra... Harnoncourt knock-out !

It seems that all these comparison programs should be carefully relativized, shouldn't they ?

Kirk McElhearn wrote (April 15, 2003):
< Paul Dirmeikis wrote: It seems that all these comparison programs should be carefully relativized, shouldn't they ? >
I definitely agree. All forward-looking people are scorned at first.

Johan van Veen wrote (April 15, 2003):
[To Paul Dirmeikis] An interesting memory. It is certainly true that the quality of an interpretation isn't always immediately recognized. That isn't necessarily a bad thing nor does it say anything about the value of that interpretation. Sometimes one needs time to get used to an unusual interpretation or to consider its pros and cons. The whole concept of OVPP is most interesting, and I am not against it, but for me it is just too early to be convinced on the basis of one book of authors who have looked for evidence which supports their theory. Someone has to do extensive research with the explicit aim to prove them wrong.

Of course, everyone has the right to assess a performance or recording. One doesn't need to be a 'Bach expert' to tell whether a recording of Bach's SMP is good or bad, but at least two of the members of the mentioned panel - as far as I know - don't have specific credentials to be able to assess whether the OVPP approach is historically defendable or not. Therefore I feel free to take their judgement with a grain of salt.

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: OVPP – Part 8

Laurent Planchon wrote (April 15, 2003):
< Johan van Veen wrote: Of course, everyone has the right to assess a performance or recording. One doesn't need to be a 'Bach expert' to tell whether a recording of Bach's SMP is good or bad, but at least two of the members of the mentioned panel - as far as I know - don't have specific credentials to be able to assess whether the OVPP approach is historically defendable or not. Therefore I feel free to take their judgement with a grain of salt. >
In all the reviews I have read, McCreesh's recording is not trashed because of the OVPP approach (quite the contrary sometimes) but on purely musical grounds, especially when it comes to his soloists and his conducting. In other words, in areas where he can be reasonabily compared with Koopman, Harnoncourt and others without any ideological bias. So it is a very different situation compared to Harnoncourt's first recording (and by the way, not everybody shared Golea's views then. He was a bit extreme, and were he alive he would probably still object to this recording and the entire HIP movement today) where everything was revolutionary: instruments, musicological approach, boys voices, ... Today, one can hardly argue that OVPP is revolutionary.

But having said that, I concur with you that every review should be taken with a grain
of salt, whether the reviewer has credentials or not.

Richard van Schelven wrote (April 16, 2003):
[To Paul Dirmeikis] I think at the end of the day it only matters if you personally like it or not. If the McCreesh version brings you enormous pleasure or any other version for that matter that in my humble opinion nothing is wrong with that no matter waht critics say.

Just my 2cts worth,

Ries "who loves the Herreweghe (1st) the best"

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (April 16, 2003):
< asserted that "the oboe da caccia wasn't anything else than a simple bass clarinet"... >
My brother would like that, or be grossly ! (He plays bass clarinet in the school Wind Ensemble)

Gosh if an oboe da caccia sounded like a bass clarinet, I don't want to know where HIPers would be in the music world!

< It seems that all these comparison programs should be carefully relativized, shouldn't they ? >
As my joking remark above indicated, I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. If a someone thinks an oboe da cacc. is like a b clar, then what the heck is he doing judging an HIP SMP performance?

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (April 16, 2003):
< Today, one can hardly argue that OVPP is revolutionary.>
Revolutionary, no, but controversial? perhaps? not as effective? there's a definite argument for that.


SMP comparisons

Santu De Silva wrote (April 30, 2003):
What a blessing is a not-too-discriminating ear!

I enjoy all these performances so much! I was listening to the Herrewighe (2) the other day, and that was a lot of fun ...

I do have preferences for the Arias. I like Cornelius Hauptmann in Gardiner's recording, but generally speaking, I think the solos are just a little too hurried there. It's as though Gardiner is impatient with the arias, and wants to hurry on to the choruses.

I have a "best of" disk by Rilling (on Sony), which I enjoy very much. The arias there are wonderful, and nicely paced. Herrewighe(2)'s Bass arias are just a little too firm and jolly, for my liking.

Peter Bright wrote (April 30, 2003):
Talking of the SMP I have just picked up a historic recording conducted by Günther Ramin, with the choir of St Thomas, Leipzig! The company is The International Music Company. The recording was made in 1941 (can this be right?), but the booklet comes with very little further information (quite nice artwork and an unnecessary biographical sketch but that's it). What we do have is:

Karl Erb, Tenor
Gerhard Husch, baritone
Tiana Lemnitz, soprano
Friedel Beckmann, alto
Siegfried Schulze, bass
Thomanerchoir, Leipzig
Gewandhausorchester, Leipzig
Gunther Ramin, 1941

On the Bach Cantatas site there is a 1947 Ramin disc that appears to fit the bill. Is anyone able to confirm that the CD booklet is incorrect (it states 1947 as the recording date in several places) or anyone else with general comments on this (these?) recordings?

Hugo Saldias wrote (April 30, 2003):
[To Peter Bright] This is a great buy!!

Please who plays the continuo?

Peter Bright wrote (April 30, 2003):
[To Hugo Saldias] I'm afraid it doesn't list any instrumentalists - a shame as they have made some effort with the artwork and quality of the packaging (for a budget release). I don't know much about the company (TIM), except that they've been around a while and I think they are based in Hamburg. Once I've listened to the discs I'll share some thoughts...

Hugo Saldias wrote (May 1, 2003):
[To Peter Bright] Thanks a lot for looking...

Everything about the Thomaskantor or Kreuzkantor (the one in the Famous Dresden Choir of the Cross) that is Georg Biller in Leipzig or Roderich Kreile in Dresden is if high interest and respect for me...

Thank you again

Hugo Saldias wrote (May 1, 2003):
[To Peter Bright] Here is some information:

First Thomaskantor Prof.Günther Ramin had that position from 1940 till 1956. So the date is OK according to the dates this great man had J.S. Bach's job.

Second I checked the THOMANERCHOR WEB SITE AT: www.leipzig-online.de/thomanerchor/merchandising and saw the recording with the same singers as you list.The work is the SMPassion.I do not remember you gave the name of the works of your recording.The serial number of the one listed on the web site is: 2 CD FONO LAER PR 90228...

There is an historic recording of the previous Leipzig Kantor:Karl Straube was in that position between years 1918 - 1939. They have a recording from 1931. It has Cantatas 67/76/75/70.

Any news on your side? Like the works played on your CD please?

Continue of this Discussion, see: Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 – conducted by Günther Ramin


SMP

Tomek wrote (June 11, 2003):
In St.Matthew Passion only the words of Jesus have strings' background. All words, except one sentence: "Eli, eli, lama asabthani". Someone have any clue why?? This could be a start for a religious dispute.........

Richard Smith wrote (June 11, 2003):
The strings which surround the words of Jesus in the St. Matthew passion are refferred to as a "halo" of strings. Bernstein mentions this and other innovations in his 1965 talk on the St. Matthew. He also mentions that, at the moment of death, with those words, he becomes an ordinary man and passes away. There is also the chorus, "Herr Bin Ichs?" when Jesus announces that one of his desciples will betray him. Count the repeats and you will see that one of the desciples voices is missing, it it that of Judas. George Gershwin used a similar technique in Porgy and Bess, all the black characters are surrounded with magical music when they talk, but when the sherriff arrives determined to arrest someone, dead silence.


Key of final chorus st. Matthew Passion

Jan Ursem wrote (September 24, 2003):
Listening to the final chorus of Bach's St. Matthew Passion (Wir setzen uns in Tränen nieder) the key is c-minor. Looking at the score, however, there are only two flats, suggesting B-flat or g-minor. Or perhaps c-dorian? What is Bach's hidden message here. Exactly the same holds for the last aria from cantata BWV 82 (Ich freue mich auf meinen Tod).

Sybrand Bakker wrote (September 24, 2003):
[To Jan Ursem] Nothing.

It was quite customary to leave out the flat for the sixth note of the key.

Max wrote (September 25, 2003):
[To Sybrand Bakker] An artifact of modality. Anyone know why Bach sometimes used the old key signatures?

Beau Gus wrote (September 25, 2003):
[To Max] I think you will find that when he is writing Renaissance counterpoint (as he conceived it) he will use the modal signatures. He is being deliberately atavistic.

Sybrand Bakker wrote (September 25, 2003):
[To Beau Gus] I don't agree with you. Bach used it, Telemann used it. Bach also did use it in it's so-called 'Dorian' Toccata. Rhetorical question: has this work anything to do with renaissance counterpoint. If so what, and if so why do you think 'renaissance' counterpoint is atavistic. It wasn't at all, it was still being teached.



Continue on Part 7


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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