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 Helmuth Rilling


J.S. Bach: Matthäus-Passion

Matthäus-Passion BWV 244

Helmuth Rilling

Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart / Bach-Collegium Stuttgart

Tenor [Evangelist]: Adalbert Kraus, Bass [Jesus]: Siegmund Nimsgern; Soprano [Arias]: Arleen Augér; Soprano [1st Maid]: Rosmarie Hoffmann; Mezzo-soprano [Pilate's Wife]: Ann Murray; Contralto [1st Witness]: Gabriele Schnaut; Contralto [Arias]: Julia Hamari; Mezzo-soprano [2nd Maid]: Ria Bollen; Tenor [Arias]: Aldo Baldin; Tenor [2nd Witness]: Frieder Lang; Bass [Arias]: Philippe Huttenlocher; Bass [Judas]: David Thomas; Bass [Peter]: Walter Heldwein; Bass [High Priest]: Philip B. Frohnmayer; Bass [Pilate]: Nikolaus Hillebrand; Bass [1st Priest]: Johannes Kosters; Bass [2nd Priest]: Manfred Volz

CBS / Sony Classical

Mar-Apr 1978

3-CD / TT: 186:47

1st recording by of Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 by H. Rilling. Recorded at Gedächtniskirche Stuttgart, Germany.
Buy this album at:


Edition Bachakademie Vol. 74 - Matthaüs Passion · Las Passion selon St. Metthieu · St. Matthew Passion

Helmuth Rilling

Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart / Bach-Collegium Stuttgart

Tenor [Evangelist, arias]: Michael Schade, Bass-Baritone [Jesus]: Matthias Goerne; Soprano: Christiane Oelze, Mezzo-soprano: Ingeborg Danz, Bass [arias]: Thomas Quasthoff; Soprano [Ancilla I]: Ursula Fiedler; Soprano [Ancilla II]: Barbara Osterloh; Soprano [Uxor Pilati]: Bettina Arias; Alto [Testis I]: Daniela Sindram; Tenor [Testis II]: Martin Wanner; Bass [Judas]: Christoph Wagner; Bass [Petrus]: Peter Pöppel; Bass [Pilatus]: Ralf Ernst; Bass [Pontifex I]: Jörn Sakuth; Bass [Pontifex II]: Stefan Müller-Ruppert


Feb-Apr 1994

3-CD / TT: 174:51

2nd recording of Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 by H. Rilling. Recorded at Stadthalle Sindelfingen, Germany. Exists as a 4-CD album as well. CD4 contains ”Ein Chhoralbuch für Johann Sebastian”.
Buy this album at:

St. Matthew Passion - Rilling

Lieder wrote (July 10, 2001):
I currently own the Klempler and Gardiner recordings of the St.Matthew Passion, and, unlike many listeners, enjoy both versions. Itseems that nowadays you must be in one camp or the other. However, Iam thinking of buying the Rilling version on the Hänssler Bach Edition. Considering the other two performaces I possess, is the Rilling sufficiently different to justify the expense, or should Ibe looking elsewhere? Where? BTW, I have the Rilling's recording of the Bach Mass in B Minor,and enjoy it very much. Thank you very much for your time and advice.

Charles Francis wrote (July 11, 2001):
[To Lieder] I have the Klemperer, Gardiner and Rilling/Hänssler recordings you mention. Unfortunately, I can't recommend either the Rilling/Hanssler 1994 recording or the stylistically similar Herreweghe recording from 1999. I'm similarly not impressed with the two Harnoncourt recordings.However, for a recording with boy's choir, the Leonhard performance with La Petite Band is highly recommended. Rillings earlier 1978 performance is much more profound than his second attempt and is worth having. The Münchinger 1965 recording is also good, but the legendary 1959 Richter recording is even better, and in the same style. Woldike's 1959 performance is also excellent, but I'm not fond of either the 1941 Ramin or the 1954 Furwangler. With regard to Scherchen's 1953 recording, it probably has some of the most expressive arias going, but I can't stand his choir sound (in the Klemperer recording, it's the other way round!).

To summarise, in your position, I'd probably go for three not-to-be missed performances: Leonhard, Richter and Wöldike. Choir aside, the Scherchen is also to be recommended with its dramatic performance and great aria singers.

By the way, which Rilling B-Minor Mass do you have?

Laurent Planchon wrote (July 11, 2001):
[To Lieder] If you are looking for something very different while still being the St Matthew passion, I'd recommend that you get Spering's recording of the Mendelsohn version (1847). It is on opus 111, and I believe it has been just re-released recently (it used to be at Berkshire as well). A really interesting experience.

Melanie Eskenazi wrote (July 11, 2001):
[To Lieder] Yes, you should certainly get the Rilling Hänssler edition recording, for two reasons - it has the finest Christus ever recorded (Matthias Goerne) and the finest bass soloist ever recorded (Thomas Quasthoff) Listen to "Trinket alle daraus.....meines Vaters Reich" and "Denn sein Mund......... den ersten Trunk versüsset." The direction is pretty good ,too, and the chorales (especially "Erkenne mich....") are wonderful.

William D. Kasimer wrote (July 11, 2001):
[To Melanie Eskenazi] Glad to see that someone else likes this recording, which is, on balance, probably my favorite non-HIP recording of the SMP. The only better Christus I've heard, BTW, is Goerne himself, on the more recent Harnoncourt recording. BTW, Rilling's soprano and mezzo soloists are also first-rate. My only caveat relates to Michael Schade, who sings both the Evangelist and the tenor arias; I find him a bit over-wrought in both, certainly in comparison to the best recorded Evangelists, Equiluz, Pregardien, and Cuenod.

Aside, I think that one's response to various recordings of the Saint Matthew Passion depend upon whether one looks upon the work as drama, or devotion. I think that, for example, Rilling and the recent Harnoncourt pretty clearly fall into the "drama" category, while I would categorize Klemperer and Wöldike (and probably Richter, if I could bear to listen to it again) as "devotional". While both Gardiner and the new Herreweghe are well-executed, I don't think that either of them presents a strong case for either category - perhaps that's why I tend to forget about them when recommendations are sought. Scherchen, on the other hand, achieves both.

Melanie Eskenazi wrote (July 11, 2001):
[To William D. Kasimer] Yes, I agree with you about Schade - he just does not have full control over the top of his voice, which is the most disturbing thing about him as far as I'm concerned; he is also rather unvaried in style, and seems to sing everything with the same emphasis. I'm sure we've had this discussion before, but I there's no doubt in my mind that the best recorded Evangelist is John Mark Ainsley - sadly, the Ozawa version on which he sings is otherwise undistapart from Quasthoff's Christus.

Harry J. Steinman wrote (July 12, 2001):
[To William D. Kasimer] While we're on the subject of favorite non-HIP SMPs...I hasten to add the Richter 1958 recording with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, . Wow! There is a 10 CD set (Uni/Deutsche Grammophon - #463701, about $64 at which includes all of the Passions, the Xmas Oratorio, B Minor Mass. I'm travelling, else I could tell you who else is on the recording (Schwartzkoff??) But this is one outstanding recording.

Piotr Jaworski wrote (July 12, 2001):
[To Harry J. Steinman] It seems that acquiring this huge set of Richter is .. unavoidable. I personally rather don't like "old" recordings (20's-60's)- no matter big or small scale vocal works, solo instrumental or orchestral. Various reasons: sound and recording quality, I'm very much pro-HIP kind of person, $$$ issue as well etc., etc. Richter's SMP as a 'must-have' - OK; what about the other works: especially SJP and the Great Mass? I wouldn't like to buy the whole set because of the attractive price
Shall I rather look for the separate SMP's 1958 recording or the whole 10 CD’s Richter box cause no threat for the HIPper? ;-)

Paolo Fagoaga wrote (July 12, 2001):
[To Harry J. Steinman] Oh, yes Harry!!! I own the set of vocal works. 10 CD’s of joy!!! Highly recomendable for those who dig non HIP recordings. On the other hand, from non-HIP conductors, I think of Richter as the less romantic of them all. I consider he has just the right dose to reach some outstanding emotional moments, with more accent than you can find on HIP recordings.


Manufacturing fault? Rilling's 1st SMP (1978)

Neil Halliday wrote (April 5, 2004):
I wonder if any list member can inform me whether a fault on tracks 10 and 11 of this CD - Sony CD of SMP choruses and arias, with Augér etc, taken from the complete 3-CD CBS recording - is (perhaps) limited to the CD which I purchased.

The fault is an approx. 75% reduction in volume from the LH channel, throughout the entire length of these two tracks.

Rilling's complete 3 CD set (of this 1st recording) appears to be no longer available, but this single CD has certainly whetted my appetite; it features exceptionally clear, powerful, and energetic performances of the opening and closing choruses, and excellent performances from the vocal soloists. (The separation between the two choirs, two orchestras, and chorale sopranos, in 'Kommt, ihr Toechter' is outstanding).

Ehud Shiloni wrote (April 10, 2004):
[To Neil Halliday] Like you, I have only the single CD "sampler", and I did some listening today. The phenomena you've mentioned does exist, and you can find it on track #6 as well. If you look at the liner notes, you find that the recording took place over 14[!] different sessions, starting on March 22 and ending on May 17, 1978. Conceivably, consistency was not very well maintained. Microphones placing, 1st and 2nd orchestra positioning - any number of factors could have played a part, and the result is less than perfect. I agree with you that some numbers are delicacies and the voice of Julia Hamari is simply divine. A good CD, despite the sound problem.

Riccardo Nughes wrote (April 10, 2004):
< Rilling's complete 3 CD set (of this 1st recording) appears to be no longer available, >
It was recently reissued in this box-set:

Ehud Shiloni wrote (April 30, 2004):
[To Riccardo Nughes] A big THANK YOU to Riccardo for this information, and a hot recommendation to all of you to put your hands on this reissue box-set. The cost is 40 something Euro for 11 CD's, and the only drawback are the liner notes which are very skimpy.

So far I have listened only to the SMP, and it is a moving and dramatic rendition. Made me think why possibly did Rilling bother to record a second version.

Julia Hamari is the star of the show, and there are other stars too. Adalbert KrausI, whom I don't believe I have heard before, is a very convincing Evangelist here. The duo Augér/Hamari deliver a second to none "So ist mein Jesus nun gefangen". Many other gems.

The technical problems which we discussed with regards to the excerpts CD are evident on the full version, but I do believe some others have been fixed. For instance I have an annoying scratchy sound at the beginning of "O Mensch" on the excerpts, but it seems to have been somehow edited away on the full recording.

Again - thanks to Riccardo, and it goes to show you how valuable the sharing of information on this List can be.


Rilling's 1978 SMP; a correction

Neil Halliday wrote (July 11, 2004):
A couple of months ago I noted what I thought were faults on the above CD of Rilling (which consists of choruses and arias from the SMP).

In fact, after consulting the score, all that is happening is that Rilling has a very sharp deliniation between the two ensembles; and so an aria for 'Coro I' mainly plays from the left speaker, while arias marked 'Coro II' mainly sound from the right speaker - no recording fault at all. With this in mind, the CD is quite enjoyable, and as I have previously commented, this marked separation between the two ensembles makes for an exciting reading of the opening chorus.

On 'Erbarme dich': Rilling's reading, with Julia Hamari, is quite good, but a somewhat evident, small, continuo chamber-organ, playing detached notes, is a drawback; the most sensuously lovely recording I have is Bernstein's recording, with a lady by the name of Betty Allen (sung in English).

With this recording, the beautiful colouring of the upper strings (violins I and II, and violas) of the New York Philharmonic, is breathtaking in its impact, in conjunction with the vivid pizzicato of the string basses, all of which is the background to the voice and the solo violin, in this aria.

With Rilling, I can follow the viola part with the score - but with Bernstein, I can clearly hear every note of the (non-solo) violin parts as well, making for stereo at its best. Allen uses minimal vibrato, and her voice has a sweet timbre (usually).

A recording I have of this aria with an Australian period ensemble, namely, the Orchestra of the Antipodes, and alto Sally-Anne Russell, is light and, to me, emotionally uninvolving, despite Russell's lovely voice with well controlled vibrato. The string background noted above is difficult to hear, and perhaps consists of only a single instrument per part. A continuo chamber organ is evident. Tempo is brisk - 6.10, c.f. 6.37 and 7.03 for Bernstein and Rilling respectively.

For memory, this aria is spoilt by excessive vocal vibrato in Richter and Münchinger. (I'll have to give Klemperer another listen when I get the time)


Matthäus-Passion BWV 244: Details
Complete Recordings: 1900-1949 | 1950-1959 | 1960-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-2009 | 2010-2019 | Recordings of 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 | Part 17 | 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 - G.C. Biller | 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. Rattle | 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]

Helmuth Rilling: Short Biography | Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart | Frankfurter Kantorei | Figuralchor der Gedächtniskirche Stuttgart | Bach-Collegium Stuttgart
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13
General Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
Edition Bachakademie - Vols. 1-20 | Edition Bachakademie - Vol. 9 | Edition Bachakademie - Vol. 60 | Arleen Augér sings Bach - conducted by Rilling | Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau sings Bach - conducted by Rilling
Other Vocal Works:
BWV 232 - Rilling | BWV 243 - Rilling | BWV 244 - Rilling | BWV 245 - Rilling | BWV 248 - Rilling | Chorales - Rilling
Cantate Label:
Recordings | General Discussions
Table of recordings by BWV Number

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


Back to the Top

Last update: Sunday, June 04, 2017 02:14