Matthäus-Passion BWV 244
Conducted by Mogens Wöldike
Bach re-issues coming up
George Murnu wrote (March 24, 1998):
According to Allegro Import's magazine, the old Vanguard recording of Bach's St. Matthew Passion conducted by Mogens Wöldike will be available in the U.S. on April 21; Simon already mentioned that he has seen this recording in London.
Another re-issue of note (certainly something that I am looking forward to ) - for now only available in Europe; don't know about the U.S. street date - is a set on 8 or 9 CD's of Bach's cantatas conducted by Gunther Ramin. The discs are also available separately and the label is Berlin Classics. The recordings were first released in Germany and Grammophone gives April as a U.K. release date.
I'm not affiliated with any of these guys, this is fyi...
Bernard S. Greenberg wrote (March 24, 1998):
[To George Murnu] This is the best Bach recording news I have heard in years. I'm counting days! I'm VERY, very fond of that performance, and would love to hear what others think of it once it becomes available again.
I'd like to see the old Vox recording (50's?) of the motets by the Stuttgart Hymnuschorknaben reissued.
Zachary Uram wrote (March 24, 1998):
[To Bernard S. Greenberg] Hi, what label will be re-issuing this? So this will be AAD format? Bernie it sounds like you have heard this before, how would you compare it against the Gardiner or Rilling recordings? Or is it in the style of Klemperor? Last night Karl Hauss had a nice radio program in honor of Bach's birthday. Alles Gute zum Geburtstag lieber Bach!
Bernard S. Greenberg wrote (March 24, 1998):
[To Zachary Uram] Between Rilling and Richter, in style, I'd say. It's a modern instrument (plus, of course, gamba and cto organ) performance right before the dawn of the "Early Music" era, utterly musical, the choral and solo work just gorgeous, absolutely devoid of eccentricities and dogmatism of any kind, from either end ("early music" or "romantic"), and exquisitely sensitive, reverent, and professional.
Wöldike Matthäuspassion released in US
Bernard S. Greenberg wrote (April 24, 1998):
<< Zachary Uram wrote: It sounds like you have heard this before, how would you compare it against the Gardiner or Rilling recordings? Or is it in the style of Klemper[e]r? Last night Karl Hauss had a nice radio program in honor of Bach's birthday. Alles Gute zum Geburtstag lieber Bach! >>
< Bernard S. Greenberg, re Mögens Wöldike (et al.)'s Matthäuspassion:
Between Rilling and Richter, in style, I'd say. It's a modern instrument (plus, of course, gamba and cto organ) performance right before the dawn of the "Early Music" era, utterly musical, the choral and solo work just gorgeous, absolutely devoid of eccentricities and dogmatism of any kind, from either end ("early music" or "romantic"), and exquisitely sensitive, reverent, and professional. >
This CD remaster of this touchstone 1959 performance is now available in the US, Vanguard Classics SVC 85/86/87 (set of 3).
The transcription to CD seems flawless, all the feeling and beauty of the performance I have come to know for decades from four vinyl discs is there afresh, resurrected and a glow in fine new garment, as it were.
As one who has studied the Matthew Passion all his adult life, and attends varied performances good and bad each year routinely, I cannot recommend this performance highly enough. It is that to which I have compared all others for the past 30+ years.
So terrific are the interpreters, so tasteful, proficient, and sensitive that they accomplish the ultimate goal to which any performer can strive: listening to, experiencing, this Passion, we are brought to our hands and feet in awe of Bach, and Bach alone, and are swept up in the drama of the story he conveys. Emotion, power, delicacy, drive, humility and pain are arrayed in perfect balance throughout. As befits the story of God's Sacrifice on the Cross, the sound, performances, and overall -Affekt- are luminous. Of recorded -Matthew-s, this is perfection incarnate.
The repackaging is, regrettably, expectable for our soundbite CD era: gone is the magnificent foot-square book with its sumptuous Rembrandt etchings, four solid pages of small type of the history of the Passion form and the history and structure of the Bach Passions (replaced by a couple of 4x4 sides from Karl Geiringer), and the personalizing pictures of the performers. Since literature on Passions, Bach, and the Bach Passions is abundant, I would have liked to have seen a presentation more befitting a historical recording: discussion of the circumstances of performance and the performers, etc. (There is about a CD page on the latter, half devoted to the illustrious career of Maestro Wöldike (1897-1988)).
The excellent (uncredited) literal translation of the libretto, bilingual, commissioned by Bach Guild (Vanguard) at the time of the recording, is, happily, reproduced intact. But don't buy it for the booklet.
Principals: Uno Ebrelius, Evang., Hans Braun, Jesus, Teresa Stitch-Randall, aria soprano, Hilde Rössl-Majdan, alto, Waldemar Kmentt, tenor, Walter Berry, bass, Vienna Chamber Choirs, Boy Choir of the Schottenstift, Chamber Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera Orchestra, Mögens Wöldike, conductor.
George Murnu wrote (July 24, 1998):
And to add to the good news, Allegro has announced that next month a CD with two cantatas conducted by Mögens Wöldike will be released in the U.S. I don't know the release date, probably a month from today or so, but the disc contains cantata BWV 29 and another cantata but I forget which one. Again, the orchestra is that of the Vienna State Opera (the Vienna Philharmonic in fact ) and the soloists are Netania Davrath, Hilde Rössl-Majdan, Anton Dermota, and Walter Berry ( not sure about the female soloists, but positive about Dermota and Berry).
Bernard S. Greenberg wrote (April 26, 1998):
[To George Murnu] I think Hilde Rössl-Majdan is incomparable. I don't know Davrath's work.
Rössl-Majdan's alto is as sweet, colorful, sensitive, and stylistically balanced as any I have ever heard (Forrester comes to mind, and Mitsuko Shirai (who I've never heard sing Bach, though)).
That recording (BWV 12 & BWV 29) is listed as SVC-88-HD on the booklet with the Passion recording I just bought (Vanguard Classics, VangClass@aol.com listed, but no web page listed).
George Murnu wrote (April 26, 1998):
[To Bernard S. Greenberg] By 'not sure about the female soloists' I meant that I'm not sure if they are the ones that are featured on this recording ( from your reply they are; thank you.) I'm certainly familiar with some of their work. I do like Davrath in Haydn's "Paukenmesse' also conducted by Wöldike and also with Rössl-Majdan, Dermota anBerry.
I also know that Rössl-Majdan once recorded all the 69 Schemelli songs, but the recording never made it to CD AFAIK. As for Mitsuko Shirai, she sings Bach in a Berlin Classics recording of Magnificat (BWV 243) and cantata BWV 10 conducted by Hans-Joachim Rotzsch. I heard this recording a few years ago and wasn't impresses but my taste might change now; who knows.
Bernard S. Greenberg wrote (April 27, 1998):
[To George Murnu] As I say, I haven't heard Shirai sing Bach, but her (and husband Hartmut Höll's) Schubert and Brahms seem unsurpassable to me.
The Schemelli songs are a rarely-heard treasure; my old recording of Peter Schreier and Karl Richter in particular (is that on CD? I've never seen it) is infused with a deep and gripping spirituality. Yup, I'd sure love to hear H R-M do that... too bad it's not out there on CD.
Wöldike’s Matthew Passion
Charles Francis wrote (April 29, 2001):
< Cem Tural wrote: I have listened to the St. Metthew Passion, only from Gardiner. What do you > think about it? Any better performances of St. Metthew's? >
For comments on this performance check out [See the above thread: Wöldike Matthäuspassion released in US – April 1998]
I fully agree with the remarks by Mr. Greenberg.
William D. Kasimer wrote (April 29, 2001):
[To Charles Francis] I'm afraid that I don't. I recently picked this up from Berkshire (that's http://www.broinc.com) and was not nearly so impressed. I found much of the singing less than ideal (certainly inferior to that of other sets), particularly Ebrelius' Evangelist, and Woeldike's treatment much too cool, reverential, and undramatic.
But Berkshire is selling it so cheaply that it's worth finding out for oneself...
St. Matthew Passion – Wöldike
Bradley Lehmann wrote (July 11, 2001):
< Charles Francis wrote, regarding SMP by Rilling: 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 BachEdition. 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.
I have the Klemperer, Gardiner and Rilling/Hänssler recordings you mention. Unfortunately, I can't recommend either the Rilling/Hänssler 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 Munchinger 1965 recording is also good, but the legendary 1959 Richter recording is even better, and in the same style. Wöldike'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. [snip] >
Second the recommendation of the Wöldike SMP! Beautiful. Walter Berry's "Mache dich, mein Herze, rein" is itself reason enough to get it. Did it ever make it to CD?
The live one by Mengelberg is also something.
Charles Francis wrote (July 11, 2001):
[To Brad Lehman] The Wöldike is available in 20-bit digital (now how's that for marketing!). It's yours for a mere $8.97:
BTW, which label is your Mengelberg on?
Bradley Lehman wrote (July 11, 2001):
[To Charles Francis] Mengelberg on Philips, probably out of print. I got it used from somebody who lost the booklet and nearly destroyed all the discs, looks like they've been underfoot on gravel...but they still play.
Thanks for the Wöldike link!
Lieder wrote (July 11, 2001):
[To Charles Francis] Yes, I see the Wöldike at Berkshire, and will certainly purchase it? I have another disc (Kodaly Cello Sonata) at about the same price ($8.87) in my shopping cart, and this together with the Wöldike will put me over the requesite minimum. How does Bershire survive. Thanks a million.
Jim Morrison wrote (July 11, 2001):
Wöldike? I get to show off my ignorance again and ask "who's that?" Anyone care to write in more about this recording or the conductor.
John Thomas wrote (July 11, 2001):
[To Bradley Lehman] The Philips set is available from Kuijper Klassiek at http://www.kuijperklassiek.nl/ Not expensive, either.
Charles Francis wrote (July 11, 2001):
[To Jim Morrison] Take a look at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Bio/Woldike-Mogens.htm
Jim Morrison wrote (July 11, 2001):
[To Charles Francis] My thanks go out to Charles for the link to the Wöldike information.
There really seems to be a wealth of information at the Cantatas site. Looks like one of those labors of love.
SMP by Wöldike
Wang Xiao-Yun wrote (March 19, 2004):
Brad Lehman wrote:
< I'm still fond of Mengelberg (1939), Furtwangler (1954), and Wöldike (1959) among the older recordings with big orch & chorus. I have a fond memory, as a teenager, of traveling up to Chicago and Rose Records to seek an LP copy of the Wöldike set, after I had liked a library's excerpt disc so much. I still have it, and picked up the CD much later. That LP set was missing its booklet (a fluke, I think) so I went and copied the whole libretto from another library book. I've picked up many others since then but I have an imprint on that one. >
I would like to hear more comments from you (and others) about the Wöldike version. I got it in the local store at a cheap price, but only heard it once. I found the tempo of some arias are too slow for me, and the soloists sometimes took breath at unexpected spots. I guess I would not return to it very often with such kind of impression. Therefore I will be appreciated to hear some positive insights of it to re-ignite my interest.
BTW, my favorite version currently is by Leonhardt. It comes in a DHM box together with Kuijken's SJP which I also like very much.
Bradley Lehman wrote (June 19, 2004):
I wrote: < My favorite spot in the Wöldike is the part where the temple veil rips and the dead people walk around. >
By the way, I was simply echoing my opinion formed 24 years ago, after I'd gone up to Chicago and into Rose Records specifically on a quest to buy this recording. And I've treasured it. On the same visit, I think, is when I also bought the George Malcolm record of the first two Bach harpsichord concertos, with some German orchestra. Anyway, I got home and found that Vanguard had omitted the booklet from the SMP set, so I went to the library and photocopied all of the libretto from a book so I'd have it. I still have those treasured photocopies in the box. I still enjoy the recording, and was glad to pick it up again on CD a couple of years ago as the LPs were wearing out. On some things like this it's nice to know that nothing learned in the intervening 24 years (by anybody) changes a favorite spot in a treasured set of records.
Charles Francis wrote (June 19, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote: << My favorite spot in the Wöldike is the part where the temple veil rips and the dead people walk around. >>
Wöldike is a lovely recording, and Rilling's first recording is somehow in the same performance space (his second is a disappointment, though). McCreeshmissed his vocation as a film director, IMO: I enjoy his SMP for the drama, but he's hardly relating to it as a religious work (likewise Herreweghe's second recording). For tragedy, you can beat Klemperer, for majesty Richter '58 and '80. Munchinger was my first SMP, remarkably HIP for its time (boys, two choirs left and right etc.). Other interesting recordings: Leonhard (boys), Scherchen (always different), Gardiner (good, but outclassed by Wöldike). For older recordings I have Furtwängler (not keen on this, though) and Gunther Ramin 1941 with the Thomanerchor (such wonderful music, at such an unfortunate time).
< By the way, I was simply echoing my opinion formed 24 years ago, after I'd gone up to Chicago and into Rose Records specifically on a quest to buy this recording. And I've treasured it. On the same visit, I think, is when I also bought the George Malcolm record of the first two Bach harpsichord concertos, with some German orchestra. Anyway, I got home and found that Vanguard had omitted the booklet from the SMP set, so I went to the library and photocopied all of the libretto from a book so I'd have it. I still have those treasured photocopies in the box. I still enjoy the recording, and was glad to pick it up again on CD a couple of years ago as the LPs were wearing out. On some things like this it's nice to know that nothing learned in the intervening 24 years (by anybody) changes a favorite spot in a treasured set of records. >
And what if it did? Would your enjoyment of a performance be diminished by the theories of academics? Would you, for example, dismiss all equal tempered performances of Bach, just because academics prefer Werkmeister or Kirnberger? Wouldn't you trust your own ears? That's one of the reasons I value Moroney's Well Tempered Clavier.
Gabriel Jackson wrote (June 19, 2004):
Charles Francis wrote: "McCreesh missed his vocation as a film director, IMO: I enjoy his SMP for the drama, but he's hardly relating to it as a religious work (likewise Herreweghe's second recording)."
What on earth does this mean? How do you know how Paul McCreesh and Philippe Herreweghe feel about the work?
Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Matthaus-Passion BWV 244 - Systemetic Discussions: Part 2: Mvts. 9-20
Mogens Wöldike: Short Biography | Recordings | BWV 244 - Wöldike