Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

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

Conducted by Paul McCreesh

Part 2

Continue from Part 1

McCreesh SMP – Recording of the Month

Piotr Jaworski
wrote (April 8, 2003):
Ha! What a surprise!
I'm indeed more than pleased - Gramophone stocks on my own Exchange almost rocketed this morning! ;-)

McCreesh SMP gets the Recording of the Month in the May edition Editor's Choice.
(full quote below)

____________________________________
Bach St Matthew Passion

A strong and distinctive reading to rival Harnoncourt's triumph

St Matthew Passion,BWV244.
Julia Gooding , Deborah York sops Magdalena Kozená, Susan Bickley mezs James Gilchrist, Mark Padmore tens Peter Harvey, Stephan Loges basss

Gabrieli Consort; Gabrieli Players/Paul McCreesh
Deutsche Grammophon CD F 2 474 200-2 (161 minutes)

A radical approach to Bach's great St Matthew Passion by Paul McCreesh, his Gabrieli Players and a superb octet of singers - and that's the line-up: no chorus! McCreesh follows the scholarship first unveiled on disc by Joshua Rifkin with his one-to-a-part B minor Mass (BWV 232) for Nonesuch and since espoused in concert by Andrew Parrott. McCreesh presents a number of arguments for his approach, one of which is the actual size of St Thomas's in Leipzig where the work was first performed. 'It's not a big church at all,' he comments. 'Part of the problem is that people look at the 18th-century engravings, which are designed to make it look four times bigger than it is.' With his modest forces, McCreesh's performance of the St Matthew Passion has a transparency and grace that can be quite breathtaking. Judge for yourself in the closing chorus.

Laurent Plancon wrote (April 8, 2003):
< Piotr Jaworski wrote: McCreesh SMP gets the Recording of the Month in the May edition Editor's Choice. >
For what it is worth, it has been rather poorly reviewed in Diapason in France. The reviewer, Piotr Kaminski is usually a big proponent of the OVPP approach as was eagerly waiting for a convincing OVPP recording of the St Matthew. His conclusion is wait for Kuijken.

This edition of Diapason is rather curious actually. All the recordings I am planning to get (McCreesh, Harnoncourt/Aimard's Beethoven concerti and Christie's Zoroastre) are not getting any high marks, quite the contrary, while Rattle's Beethoven, which has not been well received so far elsewhere, got a Diapason d'Or.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (April 8, 2003):
< Laurent Planchon wrote: For what it is worth, it has been rather poorly reviewed in Diapason in France. The reviewer, Piotr Kaminski is usually a big proponent of the OVPP approach as was eagerly waiting for a convincing OVPP recording of the St Matthew. His conclusion is wait for Kuijken. >
When is the Kuijken coming out?

< This edition of Diapason is rather curious actually. All the recordings I am planning to get (McCreesh, Harnoncourt/Aimard's Beethoven concerti and Christie's Zoroastre) are not getting any high marks, quite the contrary, while Rattle's Beethoven, which has not been well received so far elsewhere, got a Diapason d'Or. >
Well, Diapason seems like it is having a period every few months... They often give excellent ratings to discs that aren't French, but it's true that the latest issue was very surprising, especially the Zoroastre.

Peter Bright wrote (April 8, 2003):
< This edition of Diapason is rather curious actually. All the recordings I am planning to get (McCreesh, Harnoncourt/Aimard's Beethoven concerti and Christie's Zoroastre) are not getting any high marks, quite the contrary, while Rattle's Beethoven, which has not been well received so far elsewhere, got a Diapason d'Or. >
I have heard a lot of good reviews of Rattle's Beethoven, the chief criticism restricted to audience noise and podium antics that come through clearly in some places. Anyone got these and would like to comment? I'm surprised that Diapason has marked down the Harnoncourt/Aimard though – it sounds like an unusual match but one that could produce fantastic results. CD Review on BBC radio 3 played a movement from no. 5 on Saturday and it sounded brilliant...

Joost wrote (April 9, 2003):
< For what it is worth, it has been rather poorly reviewed in Diapason in France. The reviewer, Piotr Kaminski is usually a big proponent of the OVPP approach as was eagerly waiting for a convincing OVPP recording of the St Matthew. His conclusion is wait for Kuijken. >
I like an OVPP approach too, but this McCreesh won't make it to my collection - I made it through the first disc and concluded the idea was indeed very sympathetic, but the performance leaves a lot to be desired. Especially with OVPP one expects the singers to be first rate, which is not at all the case, and they could have done with a German language coach. For someone with knowledge of German pronunciation this recording is hardly bearable.

I'd love to hear Cantus Cölln in an OVPP SMP. And when I think of it, I'd love a SJP by them even more...


SMP – who’s next…?

Piotr Jaworski wrote (April 9, 2003):
[To Joost] While I still have doubts about the OVPP - rather not the idea, but definitely 'execution' - I can only repeat: I'm more than satisfied with this McCreesh interpretation. Even if I'm not completely convinced by the individuals shares of chosen soloists - overall impression is very positive. "...transparency and grace that can be quite breathtaking" as the Gramophone reviewer says - exactly - that's what I've found in this recording.

I cross my fingers that the next OVPP challenge with SMP will not be Kuijken but the mentioned Junghanel and his Cantus Cöln.Supported by .... Akademie fur Alte Musik Akademie Berlin ........... The same company ... who knows ..... I'd be honoured to join you in any petition to the Board of Harmonia Mundi to consider such undertaking .... ;-)

Kirk McElhearn wrote (April 9, 2003):
< Piotr Jaworski wrote: While I still have doubts about the OVPP - rather not the idea, but definitely 'execution' - I can only repeat: I'm more than satisfied with this McCreesh interpretation. Even if I'm not completely convinced by the individuals shares of chosen soloists - overall impression is very positive. "...transparency and grace that can be quite breathtaking" as the Gramophone reviewer says - exactly - that's what I've found in this recording. >
As I await my copy, I can still recall hearing the McCreesh SMP on the radio here in France, and marveling at its beauty. I'm not surprised that some find it unsatisfactory - after all, if their theoretical leanings go toward larger forces, they have no reason to say anything good about a OVPP recording.

William Kasimer wrote (April 10, 2003):
Piotr Jaworski writes: < While I still have doubts about the OVPP - rather not the idea, but definitely 'execution' - I can only repeat: I'm more than satisfied with this McCreesh interpretation. Even if I'm not completely convinced by the individuals shares of chosen soloists - overall impression is very positive. >
I've just finished listening to Part 1, and pretty much agree with Piotr. As for the singers, they're probably the biggest impediment in the OVPP "execution" department, but that's pretty much unavoidable, isn't it? If one desires singers that blend properly in ensemble, that requires a certain type of voice and technique that is often not ideally suited to solo work (especially vis-à-vis sopranos and tenors), even for Baroque music.

I suppose that one potential compromise would be to use different singers for the solo and choral parts.

Speaking of the SMP, and having nothing at all to do with OVPP, if anyone is looking for the Scherchen recording, there's a CD copy on eBay at the moment - it's item #2521185559:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=1051&item=2521185559&rd=1

It isn't mine, and I know nothing about the seller, other than that he's got a pretty strong feedback profile.

McCreesh SMP question

Kirk McElhearn wrote (April 10, 20):
Just got my set in the mail, and am enjoying it immensely. It is quite magical.

But a question - nowhere does it specify who is singing which part. Is it safe to assume that the soloists listed in chorus I are the soloists who sing the arias and the recitatives? It certainly sounds like Padmore in the first bits singing the evangelist, and it is Kozena singing the first alto aria...

Kirk McElhearn wrote (April 10, 2003):
By looking more closely I found my answer - they are listed as soprano I, etc in the list of tracks. But it's not clear who the evangelist is.

Uri Golomb wrote (April 10, 2003):
[To Kirk McElhearn] I have not heard the recording yet, but I did attend a concert given by the same team shortly before the recording was made. There, the members of Chorus 1 sung the solos allocated to Chorus 1, and the members of Chorus 2 sung the solos allocated to chorus 2. Pretty straightforward, really; and McCreesh is not the first to restore Bach's division of soloists by choruses (Harnoncourt did this in all his recordings, as did Leonhardt and Jeffrey Thomas; there might well be other examples, but I'm not familiar with them. GArdiner also had at least two soloists for each vocal range, but distributed them according to his own preferences, not according to Bach's chorus 1/chorus 2 division). In practice, this means that Padmore sung the Evangelist and the tenor recitative-and-aria in part 1 ("O Schmerz/Ich will bei meinem Jesus wachen") -- but James Gilchrist sung "Mein Jesus schewigt"/"Geduld" in part 2, which is allocated to chorus 2. Similarly, Peter Harvey sings Christus, plus the last two bass arias ("Ja freilich"/"Gerne", and "Am Abend"/"Mache dich") -- but not the earlier bass arias; those were sung by Stephan Loges. Magdelna Kozena did all the alto solos but one -- "Erbarm es, Gott"/"Koennen Traenen" (sung by Susan Bickley). Julia Gooding sung "Blute nur"; the other two soprano solos were sung by Joanne Lunn.

Presumably, the arrangement on the recording is exactly the same -- with Deborah York singing the same parts that Joanne Lunn did in concert. McCreesh does purport, after all, to follow the divisions contained in Bach's own parts.He does depart from them in one respect: at least some of the "bit" parts (parts like Petrus, Pilatus, the two Maids, etc.) were originally performed by extra singers, whose parts include "tacet" markings for surrounding choruses. McCreesh, instead of recruiting a few extra singers to sing these parts, and these parts only, re-distributed them among the 8 members of his two choruses. I think the same applies in his recording, but I'm not sure.

Hope this helps,

Kirk McElhearn wrote (April 10, 2003):
< Uri Golomb wrote: Presumably, the arrangement on the recording is exactly the same – with Deborah York singing the same parts that Joanne Lunn did in concert. McCreesh does purport, after all, to follow the divisions contained in Bach's own parts. He does depart from them in one respect: at least some of the "bit" parts (parts like Petrus, Pilatus, the two Maids, etc.) were originally performed by extra singers, whose parts include "tacet" markings for surrounding choruses. McCreesh, instead of recruiting a few extra singers to sing these parts, and these parts only, re-distributed them among the 8 members of his two choruses. I think the same applies in his recording, but I'm not sure. >
He explains the above in the liner notes. As for the rest, see my other post answering my own questions.

I'll post some notes on the recording later after a first listen.

Piotr Jaworski wrote (April 10, 2003):
[To Kirk McElhearn] Surprise, surprise ....... ;-)

Believe me, Kirk - this is one of those recordings that GROWS every time you listen to it. No matter those weak points - quite accurately descibed in reviews - this recording has this "something", what is rare and very, very precious.Enjoy!

When you listen to Tureck can I ask you to pick up Cerasi as the THIRD one? PLEASE!!!!

Kirk McElhearn wrote (April 10, 2003):
[To Piotr Jaworsk] (regarding McCreesh) Perhaps. As it stands, I still think Suzuki's balanced approach is more effective. But I haven't even gotten through the entire recording yet...

(Regarding Tureck) I recall your raving about it. I'll listen to it soon. But with all these new CDs (also a new Händel: Aci, Galatea e Polfemo) and a couple of others, my ears will be busy in the coming days.

Piotr Jaworski wrote (April 10, 2003):
[To Kirk McElhearn] (regarding McCreesh) Suzuki ... That's strange really. You can't imagine stronger advocate of Suzuki approach and performance than Piotr Jaworski from Warsaw(!), can you? But from several days I listen to Suzuki SMP intensively again and find it quite .... boring even, comparing to McCreesh.

(Regarding Tureck) Indeed! That was me - here and there (EMRL) - raving about Carole Cerasi. But I still wait for this new CD and have completely no idea what to expect. Naturally I expect the great performance. Remember about us, Kirk, and send your reviews consequently to any List - while we all probably subscribe to most of them! ;-)

Thoughts on the McCreesh SMP

Kirk McElhearn wrote (April 10, 2003):
As I listen to this for the first time, I am moved by some aspects of the recording and annoyed by others. Here are some comments in lieu of a real review.

The sound is excellent, especially the use of a "real" church organ in the background. This gives it a richness that is not found in many SMPs.

The OVPP approach works very well overall, giving an excellent texture in the choral movements. But it takes getting used to. There is something about a large choir with lots of reverb singing "Sehet. Wen?" in the first movement that is hair-raising.

The tempi are not uniformly fast, but in some of the faster parts they do not work. Soprano Deborah York cannot keep up in Ich will dir mein Herze schenken, and this aria sounds very poor.

Some of the singers use too much vibrato, especially bass Peter Harvey. Padmore also overdoes it when singing arias.

Magdalena Kozena is excellent, as expected, but too much vibrato at times.

Some of the choral movements are so extraordinarily sung that you cannot but wonder why others have not tried OVPP.

The evangelist (Mark Padmore?) is excellent.

Others have pointed out that the diction is bad; I don't speak German but it doesn't sound good to me.

The oboe obbligato part in Ich will bei meinem Jesu wachen is very disappointing. No character, no emotion, poor sound...He needs Marcel Ponseele...

The duet with Kozena and York in part I (So ist mein Jesus nun gefangen) is excellent - their voices meld together perfectly.

To sum up, this is a very good recording, but I wouldn't give it 5 stars – 4 definitely, maybe 4 1/2. Perhaps it is the overall style that makes the weaknesses stand out more than in other recordings. These weaknesses are not major, but are not things that one can ignore.


SMP BWV 244 Paul McCreesh

Paul Dirmeikis wrote (April 10, 2003):
Here is a modest contribution to the McCreesh General Discussion:

When I first heard, on January 29th, 2000, broadcasted by a French radio, the live performance of the SMP by the Gabrieli Players, conducted by Paul McCreesh, at the “Folles Journées de Nantes”, I was astounded, and I immediately phoned to a few friends of mine, who are also fond of the SMP (even if they’re not crazy enough to have 18different versions as I do), to tell them : “Whatever you’re doing, stop it. Get tuned to this program, and listen to THIS!” I recorded the concert, and even if the sound is unfortunately barely acceptable, I often listened to the tapes, hoping that one day, a good recording would be released. This prelude to say how much I was looking forward to the Archiv CDs that were released this month. Since I received a copy, a week ago, I listened to it about ten times, and I’d like to share my impressions with all the SMP lovers who read these posts. Please forgive my English – I am French. I think this release is a very important event, as important as Harnoncourt’s version in 1971. During these last 32 years, I could say that each new recording of the SMP was, in a way, just another child, another grandchild, another great-grandchild, etc., of Harnoncourt’s extraordinary work. A better technical sound here, a new countertenor there, tempi more or less fast, and so on… But globally, all these new recordings could be said “baroquely correct”... Today, in the same way as there was a “before-and-after” Harnoncourt, I think there will be a “before-and-after” McCreesh, even if he is indeed historically not the first one to have performed the SMP according to the OVPP approach (cf. Rifkin and Parrott), but just the first one to record it. Of course, the polyphonic legibility is incredibly improved, and that could almost be enough to consider this recording as revolutionary, but more than this, I am convinced that the OVPP choice goes far beyond a mere aesthetic and musical perspective. I read Ehud Shiloni’s post (March 27, 2003) with great interest, and I absolutely agree with him ([Hearing McCreesh singers perform this familiar movement, I realized that the CHOIR sound has elements which are in a way mechanical or even artificial, casting a thin veil of detachment on its human source, while this performance was being sung by a group of INDIVIDUALS, each of whom was present as a PERSON]). This perception changes the whole perception of the work, I would say in a new spiritual approach. The SMP becomes a totally human and personal drama. Jesus and the Evangelist, as well as the aria soloists, are no more highlighted as “stars”, as if they were apart from the others: they are completely involved and united in this spiritual drama. Jesus is Jesus, but all the same, he is Petrus, Judas, Pontifex, and part of the human “choir”: he is the son of God, but he is also a man with all his contradictions, his greed, his fears, his anger, his blindness. And this perception transforms the usual “aesthetic” listener into someone who intimately participates in the drama. I never felt this emotion, this intimacy, with any of the other versions I listened to. Tears come to my eyes when the chorus n° 9e starts (Herr, bin ichs, bin ichs…) with such an unusual slow tempo and so much anguish in the voices, when the tenor ends n° 38b (…und weinete bitterlich), when the first “…kommt” arises, whispered by Magdalena Kozena, in the aria n° 60…With the other versions, listening to the whole SMP in a raw is always a little difficult for me. From time to time, my attention drops down, because of a feeling I am listening to a collection of pieces, more than to a coherent and unified spiritual process. I always feel, on different levels of course according to each version, a kind of lack of unity, of homogeneity, of a global conception. On that point of view, McCreesh’s version is extraordinarily controlled. I feel catched from the first to the last note, without any breaking up, any weakness. Conductor, singers, instrumentalists are all unified to create a dramatic tension (especially in the second part) in order to bring us with them, and make us participate as we never did before. These are simply some of my first impressions, and I could write many more pages, but I stop here, hoping that I bored no one…

Poitr Jaworski wrote (April 11, 2003):
[To Aryeh Oron] Many thanks for submitting this post to the List! I wonder if McCreesh will ever get better review of his work than this one.So passionate, so sincere - it was a pleasure to read it! Please, send my best regards to Paul, and thank him a lot.

Such voice, from someone who's so enthusiastic about the work as such (well ... 18 versions!) means much more than from the group of Most Professional Reviewers! If Paul will ever decide to continue - please keep us in mind.


BWV 244 Paul McCreesh & the Matthäus-Passion

Paul Dirmeikis wrote (April 11, 2003):
When I first heard, on January 29th, 2000, broadcasted by a French radio, the live performance of the SMP by the Gabrieli Players, conducted by Paul McCreesh, at the “Folles Journées de Nantes”, I was astounded, and I immediately phoned to a few friends of mine, who are also fond of the SMP (even if they’re not crazy enough to have 18 different versions as I do), to tell them : “Whatever you’re doing, stop it. Get tuned to this program, and listen to THIS!” I recorded the concert, and even if the sound is unfortunately barely acceptable, I often listened to the tapes, hoping that one day, a good recording would be released.

This prelude to say how much I was looking forward to the Archiv CDs that were released this month. Since I received a copy, a week ago, I listened to it about ten times, and I’d like to share my impressions with all the SMP lovers who read these posts. (Please forgive my imperfect English – I am French.)

I think this release is a VERY important event, as important as Harnoncourt’s version in 1971. During these last 32 years, I would be inclined to consider each new recording of the SMP as, in a certain way, just another child, another grandchild, another great-grandchild, etc., of Harnoncourt’s extraordinary work. A better technical sound here, a new countertenor there, tempi more or less fast, and so on… But globally, all these new recordings could be said as “baroquely correct”... Today, in the same way as there has been a “before-and-after” Harnoncourt, I think there will be a “before-and-after”McCreesh, even if he is indeed historically not the first one to have performed the SMP according to the OVPP approach (cf. Rifkin and Parrott), but simply the first one to record it.

There is so much to say… First of all, of course, the polyphonic legibility is incredibly improved, clear, chiselled, and this could almost be enough to consider this recording as revolutionary. But more than this, I am convinced that the OVPP choice goes far beyond a mere aesthetic and musical perspective.

I read Ehud Siloni’s post (March 27, 2003) with great interest, and I absolutely agree with him ([Hearing McCreesh singers perform this familiar movement, I realized that the CHOIR sound has elements which are in a way mechanical or even artificial, casting a thin veil of detachment on its human source, while this performance was being sung by a group of INDIVIDUALS, each of whom was present as a PERSON]).

Yes, this perception changes the whole perception of the work, I would say in a new spiritual approach. The SMP becomes a totally human and personal drama. Jesus and the Evangelist, as well as the aria soloists, are no more highlighted as“stars”, as if they were apart from the others : they are completely involved and unified in this spiritual drama. Jesus is Jesus, but all the same, he is Petrus, Judas, Pontifex, and part of the human “choir”: he is the son of God, but he is also a man with all his contradictions, his greed, his fears, his anger, his blindness. And this perception transforms the usual “aesthetic” listener into someone who intimately participates in the drama.

I never felt this emotion, this intimacy, with any other version I listened to. Tears come to my eyes when the chorus n° 9e starts (Herr, bin ichs, bin ichs…) with such this unusual slow tempo and so much anguish in the voices, as if it was my own anguish, when the tenor ends n° 38b (…und weinete bitterlich), as if it was my own despair, when the first “…kommt” arises, whispered by Magdalena Kozena, in the aria n° 60, as if it was my own spiritual calling…

With the other versions, listening to the whole SMP in full is always a little difficult. From time to time, my attention drops down, and I use the remote control to get to a specific track. I think it’s because I feel I’m listening to a collection of pieces, rather than to a coherent and unified spiritual process. I always felt, on different levels of course, according to each version, a kind of lack of unity, of homogeneity, of a global conception. On that point of view, McCreesh’s version is extraordinarily controlled. I feel catched from the first to the last note, without any breaking off, any weakness. I feel no necessity to have recourse to the remote control, and browse to my favourite moments. An incredible inner unity makes it impossible to listen to in another way than fully. Conductor, s, instrumentalists are all unified to create such a spiritual hold, such a dramatic tension (especially in the second part) that we participate as we never did before.

There is so much more I could say… I hope I bored no one with this post.


Bass Arias in McCreesh' s SMP recording

Ignacio Deleyto wrote (April 14, 2003):
According to some reviews of McCreesh's SMP I've seen, the bass aria "Komm süsses Kreuz" is sung by Stephan Loges. However, according to the libretto, this aria belongs to "Chorus I" and so it should be sung by Peter Harvey, shouldn't it? I would like to know who sings what (Harvey or Loges) in all bass arias of this recording.


Samples from McCreesh' Matthäus-Passion

Ivan Lalis
wrote (April 25, 2003):
I have uploaded 2 samples from this new recording for a friend and I thought it would not hurt if I mentioned it on this list. The two tracks are available at:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/opera_bits/files/

Take it as a teaser for a complete recording in the case you are curious about an OVPP version of SMP or as something you would otherwise never hear in the case you do not like the OVPP idea :-) I for one quite like it.

Santu De Silva wrote (April 25, 2003):
[To Ivan Lalis] I just downloaded these, and I rather like them.

I really would have preferred a children's chorus of about 3 for the ripieno trebles.

I predict that the wave of the future would be small choruses, such as Francine suggests. There most definitely is a difference between single voices and two voices, and more voices.

I have to believe that, for me, the power of the SMP is not in its massivity --as it seems to be for other members from what they write-- but in its complexity. That introductory chorus beautifully typifies the paralysis one feels to see numerous forces and motives converging to create disaster (however redeeming it is construed to have been in retrospect). [The present drama unfolding like a train wreck in slow motion in the middle east affects me with that same feeling of being tied up in sticky knots.]

I would dearly like to hear the SMP sung with 2 singers per (chorus) part, with three children (at least) singing the treble part.

I'm listening to John Eliot Gardiner / Monteverdi Choir singing Komm ihr Tochter. He uses I believe seven children, mixed boys and girls, and you can hear the typical edge in the voices of young girls singing, and it's not unpleasant (though it is different from boys).

Fascinating.

Bob Henderson wrote (April 25, 2003):
Dear friends, As I thought I could not avoid it, I acquired the McCreesh SMP last week. Somewhat reluctantly. I have generally not liked OVPP recordings. I was pretty much prepared not to like this one; I have, however, liked other recordings by McCreesh.

Wow. From the first. It is as others have written. Dramatic, intimate, engaging. All balances changed. Clear, transparent. And the place of the large church organ. One can feel the underpinning deep and full. A very different sound. McCreesh states the the orchestra was used by Bach as if individual instruments were simply more stops on the organ console. I see what he means.

I agree that the use of children in the ripieno sections might have been a good addition. (believe it or not listen to the first Richter recording for a good demonstration of this). And I would have prefered a male alto (counter-tenor). Robin Blaze?

However, it will become a favorite and frequently played here.

But I wonder if Bach ever heard this work this way. Would he have selected only minimal forces for what he saw as his penaltimate achievement, the culmination of years of cantata writing, a work that was to be performed on the most important day of the year? How would the OVPP SMP sound in a large acoustic at a distance of 100 feet or greater? Would he choose these forces given alternatives? At that time. Given these circumstances.

I have recently heard the Bach Collegium Japan perform in a church seating 1200.Its difficult for me to imagine OVPP working that night. Even their sound was somewhat diminished.

Could the McCreesh SMP be considered a chamber performance; or one that is really aimed at us sitting in our listening room, our electronics providing conditions. Bach could never contemplate?

Philippe Bareille wrote (April 26, 2003):
< Santu De Silva wrote: I'm listening to John Eliot Gardiner / Monteverdi Choir singing Komm ihr Tochter. He uses I believe seven children, mixed boys and girls, and you can hear the typical edge in the voices of young girls singing, and it's not unpleasant (though it is different from boys). >
I was not aware that Gardiner used boys in his choir (apart from the "third" choir, the sopranos in ripieno, like almost anybody else). Is it what you mean Arch?

Leonhardt used 6 boys soprano and 6 boys alto (not countertenors fortunately) and his rendition brings out both the clarity and the power of the score very successfully. It was even more obvious to me when I attended a concert preceding the recording in 1989, almost 50 metres away from the musicians. I''m more sceptical about the use of 2 voices per part in a big church as this may diminish the sheer "grandeur" of the music. However, the minimalist approach may be worth exploring on CD.

Charles Francis wrote (April 27, 2003):
[To Philippe Bareille] Whenever I hear someone expressing such concerns about large churches and the like, particularly with regard to volume, not your point I grant, I do wonder if they feel Bach's arias would be better be sung by six singers simultaneously. Any problems with regard to volume, grandeur etc. would surely be compounded when 3 out of 4 vocal lines are silent.

Robert Sherman wrote (April 27, 2003):
[To Charles Francis] Not necessarily. Soloists generally have a great deal more carrying power than choristers. That's one of the things that makes them soloists.

Charles Francis wrote (April 27, 2003):
[To Robert Sherman] Granted, but the whole thrust of Rifkin's One Voice Per Part thesis is that Bach's minimal performing choir was often four (loud) soloists.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (April 27, 2003):
[To Robert Sherman] And you don't need very loud in the size church he played in. The sound carries much more than in a concert hall.

Philippe Bareille wrote (April 27, 2003):
[To Charles Francis] What is important is the contrast between a solo and a chorus. Using one or two soloists to sing a chorus defeats its purpose. Likewise, it would be inappropriate if 6 singers were to sing the solo arias. We would listen to something different. However, I must admit that the minimalist approach can be appealing sometimes (e.g: BWV 12 by Junghänel).

Santu De Silva wrote (April 27, 2003):
[To Philippe Bareille, regarding Gardiner]
Yes, exactly.


ClassicsToday on McCreesh SMP (!)

Piotr Jaworski
wrote (April 29, 2003):
In the wake of so many other musical magazines and ordinary daily newspapers, American website ClassicsToday has published this morning it's own review of Paul McCreesh recording of St. Matthew Passion.

I paste the whole review below, here is the link for those who prefer something else than just text file: http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=6409

I refrain from comments for some time - apparently I wrote about this recording enough in last few weeks.

I very much wonder opinions of other subscribers, who have this set and had not an opportunity yet to present their views here.

Do you agree with Mr. Greene from 'CT' or rather with Jonathan Freeman-Attwood from 'Gramophone'. I'd be also very much interested with other press reviews - not
necessarily from USA or UK.

_______________________________________________________
J.S. BACH
St. Matthew Passion BWV 244

Deborah York (soprano); Julia Gooding (soprano); Magdalena Kozená (mezzo-soprano); Susan Bickley (mezzo-soprano); Mark Padmore (tenor); James Gilchrist (tenor); Peter Harvey (bass); Stephan Loges (bass)
Gabrieli Players
Paul McCreesh
Archiv- 474 200-2(CD)
Reference Recording - I (Archiv); Herreweghe I (HM)

[CT Rating - Artistic Quality: 4; Sound Quality: 8]

Alert the media! Paul McCreesh has a "concept": play it small, play it fast. That's it. You don't need to bother with the rationale discussed in excrutiating detail in the accompanying booklet. All you need to know is that he plays this entire work with one voice to a part in the choruses (nine soloists in all including the extra soprano line in the opening number), and that the result is a Passion that lacks just that quality: passion. This is the most expressively neutered, dramatically inert performance ever offered to the public.

Those used to the typically powerful opening chorus that begins the work will immediately be struck by its lack of force here. McCreesh argues that minimizing the choir allows for a greater clarity of the text and the accompanying instrumental textures, as if accompanying figures should sound on an equal footing with the sung text. It's a concept as unmusical as it is unhistorical. (What's next, a disc of Bach's greatest continuo parts?) Just listen to these soloists swagger and bounce through music theoretically expressive of sorrow, and compare it to virtually any other extant performance (but especially to those reference recordings listed above). Many sequences suffer from McCreesh's impotent-sounding "quartet substitute", especially when Bach clearly uses the choir to evoke the voice of the crowd. Rarely have scenes such as Jesus on the Mount of Olives, the interrogation by Caiaphas and Pilate, and the delivery and flagellation sounded less urgent, dramatic, and awe inspiring.

The soloists, when actually acting as such, are generally fine, though given the competition they hardly stand among the best. For example, in comparison to the rich, authoritative performances of Thomas Quasthoff and Matthias Görne (Rilling) and Max Proebstl, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, and Kieth Engen (Richter), basses Peter Harvey and Stephan Loges are far less convincing, though the quick tempos don't give them much help in the expression department. I also miss the depth of feeling and rich vocal tone that Agnes Giebel and Marga Höffgen (Jochum) and Ingrid Seefried and Antonia Fahberg (again Richter) bring to their performances. And all who have heard the force of nature that is Ernst Haefliger (Richter once more) in his prime need look no further for the quintessential Evangelist.

McCreesh's swift tempos enable him to fit the work on two generously-filled (80-minute-plus) CDs. While this heightens the dance element so critical to Bach (McCreesh's motive), this logic belongs with the "accompaniment is as important as the melody" justification for using one voice per part. It's idiotic given the expressive intent of the work. It would be very amusing to hear Bach's own reaction to anyone describing this work as a "dance piece"! The final Crucifixion sequence, which should be a carefully considered, solemn, broadly paced event here leaves you feeling that Christ spent a few zippy minutes at Golgotha, instead of hours--let alone days.

In sum, this is "historical" performance theory and practice run amok, utterly lacking in fundamental musical common sense. Indeed, a performance such as this, where the same solosts sing everything over nearly three hours, is only possible on discs, where the singers have time to rest and stay in fresh voice. Such a stunt (for that is what it is) no doubt would sound atrocious in concert, as the exhausted singers limped to the finish line. And one thing we know that Bach did very well without was the role of conductor as we understand it today--and as McCreesh functions here. If he really cared about authenticity, he would have left the chorus in and absented himself from the proceedings. It would only have been an improvement.

--John Greene

Johan van Veen wrote (April 29, 2003):
[To Piotr Jaworski] I haven't heard the recording yet, but the review you have so kindly linked us to is quite interesting. I find the "references" revealing: although he lists Herreweghe I (rightly so, although I don't like Howard Crook as Evangelist) in the review itself he only refers - with nostalgia – to recordings from the "pre-HIP" era or by "anti-HIP" conductors like Rilling.

He writes:
"While this heightens the dance element so critical to Bach (McCreesh's motive), this logic belongs with the "accompaniment is as important as the melody" justification for using one voice per part."

This suggests he is quoting McCreesh (does he?). I find this phrase very strange. As far as I know McCreesh uses the clarity of the instrumental parts only as as additional argument in favour of OVPP, but not as the main argument, which is rather historical.

I also think John Greene is fundamentally wrong here if he suggests that 'melody' is more important than 'accompaniment', in particular because I believe in Bach's music terms like 'melody' and 'accompaniment' are out of place. Basically baroque music doesn't have 'melodies' but is consisting of rhetorical formulas put together by the composer in such a way that it creates the 'Affekt' he is looking for (I remember Frans Brüggen stating this a long time ago, when he was still active as a recorder player). 'Accompaniment' is the wrong term to describe the instrumental parts in Bach's vocal music: basically all parts, whether vocal or instrumental, are equal. There are so many arias in Bach's cantatas where all parts have something important to say. Last week I listened to a live recording of Cantata BWV 12 (Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen). In the tenor aria 'Sei getreu' the basso continuo is playing an ostinato motif, the oboe plays the chorale melody 'Jesu, meine Freude'. If the 'melody' - the tenor part – is more important than the 'accompaniment', why would Bach bother to use an ostinato motif in the bass and let the oboe play the chorale melody? The 'expression' Mr Greene asks for doesn't come only from the 'melody', but from all parts together.

Charles Francis wrote (April 29, 2003):
[To Piotr Jaworski] I've listened to the McCreesh SMP performance several times and I must say I find his explanation for the manner of the opening chorus, absurd. The idea that it represent a "celebration" (the dance motive) is completely at odds with the text Bach set - not "dance and rejoice for we are saved" but rather "Come ye daughters, help me mourn" - the issue addressed here is slaughter of the innocent. The operatic manner of the performance is also at odds with Bach's contract of employment. So while McCreesh's secularisation of the MP works well and is pleasant enough to listen, I don't consider it reflects Bach's intent.

Dick Wursten wrote (April 30, 2003):
I detest large choirs in Bach chorusses, are an advocate of transparency, but was not convinced at all by McCreesh openingchorus of the SMP. To do it small, or even OVPP is not a guarantee for doing it good. IMO McCreesh misses the hidden drama of the opening scene completely. If this sample is trend-setting (tone-setting) for his whole SMP (as is the openingchorus for the SMP) then I am afraid it is as many of McCreesh's projects: eye-openers, but no lasting ear-gratifiers.

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (May 1, 2003):
To Charles Francis] Well isn't all this interesting? (silly intro to prevent even sillier awkwardness)

To tell the truth I was a bit intimidated to voice my opinion (sound familiar?) of this recording because of all the rave reviews and comments about it. But now that someone agrees, albeit from a diametrically opposed musical mvmt (his fave recordings of 'ol 244 lead me to believe that he's a non-HIPer), I think I can voice my opinion.

Now first, off I'm not going to bother with the whole dance debate, save for saying that throughout the SMP runs a central theme of God's redeeming love, allowing us to dance with Him in the end.

But getting to the McCreesh, it just doesn't do it for me. From the sound samples of a while back, to listening the opening chorus and "O Mensch Bewein" at HMV on Saturday, this recording does seem quite bland and undramatic for me, and I'm almost glad I didn't botlistening to any turbae, but even the straight-harmonised chorales, which even I can make expressive, were still quite bland. I'm sorry to burst peoples' bubbles here, but I can't say that that recording leaves me with a good impression.


SMP by McCreesh on PriceMinister

Paul Dirmeikis wrote (April 30, 2003):
Just an information which might interest some of the list. The SMP by McCreesh (brand new, not second hand) can be found on PriceMinister at a quite interesting bargain (27,79 euros). Here is the link: http://www.priceminister.com/offer/buy/1368199/PR010


Another SMP Review

S.W. Anadgyan wrote (May 1, 2003):
Here's another McCreesh SMP review ...
http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/classical/reviews/bachmattpass_mccreesh.shtml


Affekt in McCreesh’s SMP

Matthew Westphal wrote (May 4, 2003):
Charles says: >>> The McCreesh SMP is very dramatic, well sung, but insensitive to the text - corrupting the 'affekt'. <<<
Charles, that's an interesting observation. Can you give some examples?

Charles Francis wrote (May 4, 2003):
[To Matthew Westphal] The opening is the obvious example. The 'affekt' doesn't sit well with the words of lament - there should be wailing and crying here, IMO! For the later movements, keep in mind Bach's employment contract in Leipzig specifically prohibited the operatic.

Matthew Westphal wrote (May 4, 2003):
Charles says: >>> The opening is the obvious example. The 'affekt' doesn't sit well with the words of lament - there should be wailing and crying here, IMO! <<<
I can go along with that -- if it's urgent wailing and crying and not the slow weeping of a dirge. After all, Jesus isn't dead yet; Choir I is calling Choir II to come and watch him being led to his passion (in its original sense of "suffering") and death. IMO, the opening chorus has to go fast enough that Choir II's questions (Who? What? How? Where?) have some urgency or they don't make sense.

I don't think McCreesh's opening chorus completely lacks wailing, especially toward the end. (I think he was going for a slow build over the whole length of the movement, which would mean that the first half or so couldn't let loose.) But I'd say it could stand more.

I'd like to hear an OVPP SMP where the opening chorus goes nice and quickly, with the bass line really going THUMP thump-THUMP thump-THUMP. Like a death march.

(If memory serves, that SMP that McCreesh did at Nantes, the one Kirk mentions liking, was rather like that. If I can find my tape of that radio broadcast, I'll have to check.)

>>> For the later movements, keep in mind Bach's employment contract in Leipzig specifically prohibited the operatic. <<<
Even so, didn't some Leipzigers complain about Bach's Passions being too operatic?

In any case, what did "operatic" mean in the context of Bach's contract? Overly extravagant emotional expression? Particular forms or types of aria, ensemble or instrumental music that were associated in the popular mind with opera? Verismo-style singing? Italian texts?

My guess is that we don't know (and that most likely there's no way to find out).

Bob Henderson wrote (May 7, 2003):
Dear Friends, Having had the opportunity to listen to the McCreesh SMP more than a few times now, I will share some impressions:

It grows on you. It has legs. The more you listen the better it sounds. Its strongest attribute is its narrative pulse. The story is better told here, more grippingly, more dramatically, with greater energy, than in any version I have heard . How anyone can find this Passion bland and neutered is beyond me. The sarcastic pan of a review in Classics Today by John Greene appears to be a case of prejudgement and grandstanding.

The use of the large organ with that base (bass) underpinning is marvelous.

I don’t think I will ever get used to the too light too fast opening chorus. A genuine mistake on McCreesh's part?

Thanks for listening!


Blandness in McCreesh’s SMP

Matthew Westphal wrote (May 4, 2003):
Johan says: >>> [McCreesh] will believe - of course - that his recording of SMP is expressive. I haven't heard it yet, so I can't tell whether the critics are right or wrong, but I was very disappointed by McCreesh's recordings of Bach's Magnificat and Easter Oratorio. On the other hand, the Epiphany Mass was a lot better. <<<
Take out the "very" before "disappointed", and I think you may well have McCreesh's own assessment of the Magnificat/Easter Oratorio recording vis-a-vis the Epiphany Mass. (What he told me in an interview about two years ago is that one has to find singers who can balance the demands of carrying a solo with the demands of singing in consort -- and that in the Mag/Easter, "I don't think we got that balance quite right.")

Matt N. says: >>> ... my displeasure of the recording. It definitely has nothing to do with being HIP, and to a lesser extent, has nothing much to do with being OVPP (at least consciously, but I can't be sure of my subconscious here). Again, it just doesn't do it for me. Plain and simple. I can't specifically say why, except for it being quite bland, which really doesn't explain my reason for not liking it. <<<
Matt, am I remembering correctly that you've heard only clips and not the whole thing?

Given the limited budget most folks your age** have, I can understand your reluctance (heck, anyone's reluctance) to spend that much money on a recording when you haven't liked the samples you've heard. For what it's worth, I found the clips of the McCreesh SMP I heard (on DG's Web site) less than thrilling, and I wasn't very excited the first time I heard the whole recording, but each subsequent time I listen to it, I'm more impressed. And (also for what it's worth) three other critics I've talked to about the McCreesh SMP have had pretty much the same experience.

** Everyone wish Matt a Happy Birthday -- he just turned 18!

Kirk McElhearn wrote (May 4, 2003):
[To Matthew Westphal] My feeling exactly. I felt a bit let down at the first listening, but the second made me feel differently. This said, it's still not as thrilling as the live performance I heard on the radio about 3 or 4 years ago.

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (May 4, 2003):
< Matt, am I remembering correctly that you've heard only clips and not the whole thing? >
I know I didn't listen to the whole thing, but I listened to some clips on the site given before, and listened to the opening chorus and O Mensch Bewein a week before yesterday. Both times I was unimpressed.

< For what it's worth, I found the clips of the McCreesh SMP I heard (on DG's Web site) less than thrilling, and I wasn't very excited the first time I heard the whole recording, but each subsequent time I listen to it, I'm more impressed. And (also for what it's worth) three other critics I've talked to about the McCreesh SMP have had pretty much the same experience. >
I'll take your word for it, but the amount I do this is cut short by my opinion of the recording. I'd have much more faith in the recording, obviously, if I enjoyed the clips that I heard.

BTW, I don't really have a budget or anything, just a bunch of birthday money! And if you're worried about any offense taken, don't-there wasn't any!

< ** Everyone wish Matt a Happy Birthday -- he just turned 18! >
Thanks MW!


McCreesh and one voice per part

Peter Bright wrote (May 4, 2003):
I note that there is a letter from Paul McCreesh in Today's Observer newspaper (effectively the Sunday version of the UK Guardian) which reflects on an article by James Fenton on Bach's vocal ensemble:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/features/story/0,11710,943615,00.html

In case any list members thought his opinion was that Bach should be played one voice per part seems to miss the point. He writes:

"The point about performing Bach with solo voices is to relish a different set of performing conventions and the musical opportunities they provide.It would be a sad day if choirs stopped singing Bach, and I thinwe are a million years from the time solo voice performances take over those of choirs."

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (May 4, 2003):
< "The point about performing Bach with solo voices is to relish a different set of performing conventions and the musical opportunities they provide. >
It's good I guess that McCreesh is seeking alternatives, but it's too bad that he couldn't pull off what Parrot did-succeed in both alternatives.


Erbarme dich” violin solo

Paul Dirmeikis wrote (May 9, 2003):
In two reviews concerning the Paul McCreesh's SMP, the critic complained about the violin solo in "Erbarme dich" ("out of place" says one, "mediocre" says the second, without any precise musical argument).

I carefully listened to this track, with the score on my knees, a few more times (since a month I actually listened to the McCreesh's SMP probably more often than I ever listened to any of the 18 other versions I have, and I confess, like some others members already said, that more I listen to it, more I am amazed and moved), and I can't hear anything wrong, or which could be said "mediocre".

On the contrary, I think that it perfectly weaves with the alto voice, like a duet. It's not too sentimental nor weepy, but rather sharp and incisive, exactly as a feel of guilt, shame and bitterness can sting your soul without any rest, like an inner black insect...

Is any of you also particularly reluctant and critical about this violin solo ? I'd like to read your impressions.

Bob Henderson wrote (May 9, 2003):
[To Paul Dirmeikis] I hear nothing wrong with the solo violin but, like the set as I do, I still wish this particular aria were done by a countertenor.


Secco Recitatives

Neil Halliday wrote (July 2, 2003):
Recently I listened intently (for as long as I was able) to Paul McCreesh's SMP on a good sound system.

I was surprised by the effectiveness of the secco recitatives, despite (what I refer to as) their HIP presentation (with shortened chordal accompaniment); I surmise this effectiveness was brought about the the long reverberation time of the hall in which the recording was made (at least four seconds). The strong organ stop, with the cello, though played short, sounded over into the next bar (because of the reverberation), producing a very rich sound, and in addition, the often 'multi-part' recitatives, with Jesus, Evangelist, Pilate etc, answering one-another, were presented in a 'surround sound' 3D format that was very interesting. In fact the whole performance, with its OVPP approach, gained from the reverberation qualities of the hall. This recording also shows that the organ is more appropriate, as a continuo instrument, than a harpsicord, for this work.

Even the high-speed opening chorus was effective (though this speed not what I prefer); the 8 voices (two 4-part choirs) produced quite a big, complex sound in this 'high-reverb' hall, the major draw back being lack of attention to, and clarity of, the 'throbbing' bass line in the orchestra.

The high point of the recording was the "For love my saviour is dying"; Deborah York was stunning, and the flute and oboes flooded the hall with glorious sound. York is , of course, what Aryeh refers to as a "modern" (HIP) singer, as opposed to the "traditional" (operatic, non-HIP) - I often find that I prefer this style of singing, while still liking "modern" (non-HIP) instruments. (We have to be careful with the designations 'modern' and 'traditional' - apparently such designations are reversed for instruments and vocalists ie, instruments are modern, and non-HIP, while vocalists are modern and HIP!).

The Gabrieli Players provided a substantial instrumental accompaniment throughout, avoiding an excess of < > articulation, even if the 'reedy' (as in organ-pipe) timbre of the period strings was occasionally distracting.

In conclusion, the importance of the recording engineer's craft was high-lighted in this recording, with its demonstration of just how effective a recording can be, when when all the acoustic and reverberation details are right, and proving that even secco recitatives, with the shortened accompaniment, can be interesting.


CD review: Bach, St Matthew Passion – McCreesh

Johan van Veen wrote (September 13, 2003):
http://www.geocities.com/johan_van_veen/cd_reviews.html

Neil Halliday wrote (September 13, 2003):
[To Johan van Veen] Thanks for this review of the McCreesh SMP.

From what I can remember of a radio broadcast, I found bits of the performance to be quite engaging, eg, the "aus Liebe" soprano aria, and the acoustic surrounding the recitatives.

My impression of the opening chorus is that a more marked treatment of the repeated crotchet-quaver figure in the continuo would have worked wonders in the context of this quick tempo OVPP performance - the pulsing bass effect was missing because McCreesh appeared to blur this crotchet-quaver figure into a single dotted crotchet, thereby losing the vital pulsing rhythm which is the basis of this chorus.

Boyd Pehrson wrote (September 13, 2003):
[To Johan van Veen] Many thanks for taking the time to write your reviews. They are eminently readable, and enjoyable. I like the way you find value even in the negative example, sometimes to teach what not to do! I recommend anyone to visit your site and invest a little reading time there. Johan, I know what research effort and time it takes to write such reviews and to think through all the arguments; yours are supported wonderfully.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (September 13, 2003):
[To Johan van Veen] Another review I have seen is on Amazon.com. Click on the selection for that recording and they have (I think) about 2 or 3 reviews of it (mostly negative).

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (September 15, 2003):
[To Neil Halliday] I liked Johan's review and honestly say from what I've heard that I have to agree with it-it never engaged me, I guess now I know why.

What I find really odd is that with every recording there are a lot who really like it and some that don't, or a lot who dislike it and some that do, especially with a recording of Baroque music (often divided along authentic/traditional lines-yeah I know Brad, you don't like labels) but with the McCreesh SMP, there are a lot who really like it and a lot who don't, and both views seem to be coming from the authentic camp!. From what I've seen this is really strange and rare!

Just my 2 cents!

Tomek wrote (September 15, 2003):
Leonhardt is an old Dutch teacher, conductor, pianist, harpsichordist, organist, a kind of figure in music scene. McCreesh is relatively young british conductor who try to do somethink new. These are the differences betwen them which are the major cause that comparing their SMP recordings don't make any sense. These recordins will allways be different and I think everydoby knew that even before listening. I'm sure you're right: Gabrieli Consort don't play with such an emotional comitment as La Petite Bande or Concerto Vocale, but it's just the british style. They aren't a bit worse than English Baroque Soloist or Taverner Consort. Voices. Indeed they're different but it's subjectiv opinion that boy sopranos are more expresive than women. This is only a different kind of expression. Evangelista. Yes, he sings rather than speak, but he's not a German and you can't expect that from Mark Padmore. What I wrote is not an atempt to get you to like McCreesh, but to say that he did SMP in the style of his own culture and this is because so many don't like it.

Boyd Pehrson wrote (September 16, 2003):
[To Tomek] Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas. It is what this forum is all about.


McCreesh’s Matthew

David Cozy wrote (October 20, 2003):
One of my most powerful art-related experiences of late has been listening to the recording of Bach's St. Matthew Passion by Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Players. It is, I am told, a controversial recording because McCreesh has used a "historically informed" (Is that the preferred term now? Or should I prefer "authentic"?) approach: one voice to a part. This is the first recording of such a perf.

Whether a recording is authentic or inauthentic, historically informed or misinformed is, to me, not terribly important. I'm just interested in whether the performance--for me--works, and this one does. It is absolutely--all two hours and forty minutes of it--riveting. I highly recommend this even to those (and I sometimes fall into these categories) who think they don't care for choral music, or can't relate to religious music. It's Bach after all, and as has been touched on in another thread, even when he's doing something one is not predisposed to like one is quickly, immediately, and forcefully, won over.

For those who are interested in the controversy surrounding McCreesh's approach, Timothy Roberts, in the liner notes to the CD writes: "The traditionalists, including many of our most esteemed Bach scholars, are always promising irrefutable evidence to prove that Parrot and Rifkin are simply incorrect. However, in 20 years, the arguments to support choral performance have looked increasingly flimsy when compared to the persuasive arguments for the use of solo voices."

Whatever your position in the debate, or even if, like me, you have no position, I highly recommend this recording.


OTish (a tad about Händel...) new opinions about Paul McCreesh

Matthew Nugebauer wrote (October 10, 2004):
Remember when I expressed a disliking for McCreesh's work in 18th century music (maybe that was the Händel list...)? Well I've been listening to his Saul and SMP on deutchegrammophon.com, and it appears my opinions have changed. His Saul isn't exactly Gardiner (i.e the Gab consort isn't the Mont Choir), but Ragin sure isn't Scholl! (No criticism about Ragin intended whatsoever-just a simple comparison)

Since I have the Gardiner Saul I'm going to forgo purchasing the McCreesh Saul for now, but I'm posting to this list because I'm definitely looking into getting the McCreesh SMP. From the samples I heard (which sound much better with headphones...), he still provides a large sound despite the OVPP (so kudos to the sound engineers/producers/etc.), and the OVPP proves its advantages in the greater dramatic control offered by a concise comittee as opposed to a slighlty larger crowd. As reffered to when discussing Saul, McCreesh's soloists sound excellent on their own as well.

It's interesting what time can do to one's ears eh? This should be an excellent addition to my admittedly unfocused and incomplete collection.


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]

Paul McCeesh: Short Biography | Gabrieli Consort & Players | Recordings | General Discussions
Individual Recordings:
Epiphany Mass – McCreesh | BWV 243 & BWV 249 - McCreesh | BWV 244 - McCreesh | BWV 245 - McCreesh

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

Introduction | Cantatas | Other Vocal | Instrumental | Performers | General Topics | Articles | Books | Movies | New
Biographies | Texts & Translations | Scores | References | Commentaries | Music | Concerts | Festivals | Tour | Art & Memorabilia
Chorale Texts | Chorale Melodies | Lutheran Church Year | Readings | Poets & Composers | Arrangements & Transcriptions
Search Website | Search Works/Movements | Terms & Abbreviations | Copyright | How to contribute | Sitemap | Links



 

Back to the Top


Last update: ýOctober 16, 2004 ý20:29:43