Johannes-Passion BWV 245
Conducted by Diego Fasolis
Fasolis’ SJP (was: Fasolis’ SMP?)
Continue of discussion from: Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 – conducted by Diego Fasolis
Johan van Veen wrote (March 17, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote: < Anybody here have a copy of Diego Fasolis' recording of the SMP (Mendelssohn arrangement), and a reaction to it? I found the Gramophone review at: http://www.gramophone.co.uk/gramofilereview.asp?reviewID=200209658 and it looks attractive to me, as a fan of other Fasolis recordings.
I already have the Spering recording of this arrangement; but this sentence from the Fasolis review sparks me especially: "Diego Fasolis and his Swiss-Italian forces (in this performance from 1995) achieve a far greater emotional range than Spering, whose alluring élan is too obediently restricted to the least imaginative wing of contemporary 'period' practice." I agree, the Spering is rather bland in impact, clean and pretty where I'd prefer something of wider-ranging drama....>
I am not very keen on Fasolis' recordings, I'm afraid. I have his recording of Handel's Messiah, which is not very good.
Just last week I purchased his St John Passion - fortunately it costed only 4 Euros. It is a very unbalanced recording: Nico van der Meel as Evangelist and Klaus Mertens as Jesus are pretty good, although I would like Van der Meel to take more rhythmic freedom in his reading of the recitatives.
Roberta Invernizzi does rather well in the soprano arias. She has a gorgeous voice, and seems to understand the music well. I almost forgave her some unidiomatic German ;)
The other soloists weren't able to impress me in any way. For example the tenor Jeremy Ovenden's upper register is just too weak for the arias, in particular 'Erwäge'. The opening chorus, on the other hand, is one of the weirdest I have ever heard. Apart from the organ a harpsichord is used, but mostly as a kind of percussion instrument. When I heard it I looked into the booklet to see if some percussion instruments were used, and then found out that it was the harpsichord. Very strange and - to be honest - pretty ugly.
The chorales are not very good either: very straightforward, without clear accents. There are also romantic traits there, for example in the sometimes wildly varying tempi and dynamics in the chorales. (No dynamic accents, to be precise, but rather some lines sung forte, others piano.)
All very strange, really. I am glad I hadn't paid more for it than 4 Euros. It in't worth any more :(
Bradley Lehman wrote (March 17, 2004):
< I am not very keen on Fasolis' recordings, I'm afraid. I have his recording of Handel's Messiah, which is not very good. Just last week I purchased his St John Passion - fortunately it costed only 4 Euros. It is a very unbalanced recording...(...) >
4 Euros only? Nice price. I ordered that SJP recently for more than that (a used copy, still not terribly expensive), through American Amazon. I liked the web samples, including that aggressive-sounding opening chorus as you mentioned: the harpsichord playing percussively in there...exciting and unexpected.
My earlier exposure to Fasolis' work has been through his Palestrina and Furstenau recordings, which I have had for a while. I like the Palestrina especially, those motets sung OVPP. The Furstenau is male-chorus stuff with guitar, sounding somewhat like Schubert's.
Then I listened to more web samples a few days ago when ordering several of his Bach sets (SJP, Magnificat/21, MBM) and the Durante vespers. The Gramophone reviews warn me about small irregularities in the live recordings, but such things do not bother me: I like to hear the immediacy of real performances, which are often more engaging than cautious studio recordings.
Then if I like these discs when they arrive, I will have to look harder for his SMP which appears to be Europe-only....
Pierce Drew wrote (March 18, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] Have you heard the Fasolis recording of the Motets?
I picked it up at Tower Records for $12 -- i.e., it is available in the US for a reasonable price.
I quite like it -- it is, as you say of his other recordings, full of flair and drama. I especially enjoy listening to it on headphones.
The Motets have always seemed rather dull to me (in comparison to his other vocal works, that is), but this recording has helped me appreciate them more.
Philip Peters wrote (March 18, 2004):
[To Pierce Drew] I would recommend Cantus Cölln (Junghänel), a truly revelatory recording.
Fasolis SJP, and "HIP"
Bradley Lehman wrote (April 1, 2004):
<<< "And why do you think Philippe Herreweghe felt the need to perform his 2nd recording of the Matthew Passion in one take?" >>>
<< He didn't record in one take, for goodness' sake. The recording took place over 5 days! >>
< First, Harnoncourt, then Leusink and now Herreweghe! Even the Epiphany Mass of Paul McCreesh appears to be a cut-and-paste job. Will there be no end to the unhistorical performance practices of HIP-conductors? >
I've been listening this morning to the performance of the SJP recorded "live" June 18th 1998, by fine Swiss and Italian musicians conducted by Diego Fasolis. A very good dramatic flow, and careful attention to the words and their meaning. The musicians in it use historically-informed performance practices, probably because they are intelligent and open-minded and interested in doing the best job they can do. If some record-buyers don't fancy this, they are welcome to go buy something else.
Not that anybody actually doing this stuff gives a *&$^%#$ rip about being a "HIP-conductor" vs a "conductor". Musicians simply try to perform the music as well as possible with the knowledge and resources at hand. "HIP-conductor" is just a silly term invented by its opponents to cast some musicians as second-class citizens, those whose work doesn't suit their own preferences and biases.
Is this Fasolis SJP a "HIP" recording? Who gives a *&*$#&%? It's strong music performed with excellent sensitivity and commitment. This performance moves me, and I'm glad to have purchased the recording. I also appreciate the way they have all of Part One (33 minutes) on one disc, and all of Part Two (75 minutes) on the other. Again a good dramatic flow, with the break where Bach put it.
And the packaging says Fasolis is a "Conductor". So does the packaging of recordings by Harnoncourt, Leusink, Herreweghe, and McCreesh.
The only "HIP" conductor I've ever known is a fine musician who really does conduct as much with his hips as with his hands and face...really gets the body movement into it. It works for him. I don't think he'd refer to himself as a "HIP-conductor", though.
P.S. The correct English term is"ahistorical", not "unhistorical". Why make up words when perfectly good ones are available? Maybe this has something to do with the correspondent's regular disrespect for all and sundry: having nothing productive to do in serious musical pursuits, make silly and sarcastic remarks about those of us who do.
Ehud Shiloni wrote (April 2, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] Way to go, Brad!
Whatever "name" people choose to attach to Fasolis will not change the effect his work will have on the listener. I am yet to find a weak Bach recording by this splendid conductor.
Charles Francis wrote (April 2, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote: < P.S. It seems that I must have misled you about the availability of Eby's Mass on BRO. It must have been some other source, but now I can't recall which one. Sorry about that. >
Here's a relevant article that uses both forms: http://homepages.kdsi.net/~sherman/encyclopedia.html
(But do note, "ahistorical" is no longer current according to Microsoft).
P.S. I'll check-out the Fasolis.
Craig Schweickert wrote (April 2, 2004):
Charles Francis wrote: < (But do note, "ahistorical" is no longer current according to Microsoft). >
Microsoft, that world-renowned authority on English usage...
Googling "ahistorical" returns 34,400 hits; "ahistoric", 2,300; "unhistorical", 12,300; "unhistoric", 800. Hardly scientific but certainly sufficient to give the lie to Microsoft's claim.
The 11th edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegeate Dictionary (© 2003) includes a definition for ahistoric/ahistorical and gives 1945 as the date of earliest recorded use. There is no entry for unhistorical, though it is listed among the words with the prefix un-.
Mortimer Spankypoo wrote (April 2, 2004):
Disclaimer: Wholly and completely off topic. More of a /.-style posting.
< Googling "ahistorical" returns 34,400 hits; "ahistoric", 2,300; "unhistorical", 12,300; "unhistoric", 800. Hardly scientific but certainly sufficient to give the lie to Microsoft's claim. >
We gotta invent our own. "Nonhistoric" has 699 matches on Google (that's no good), whereas "inhistoric" has only 92. (I must admit that's with the moderate SafeSearch on, so any pr0nographic inhistoric sites may skew the numbers of our study.)
ObligBach: Got in a friend's car yesterday and he was listening to the 'Anna Magdalena Suite' set to classical guitar.
Strictly opinion: I personally haven't heard a single classical guitar performance I've liked, though that's entirely a personal bias. But can anyone give me a scholarly enough reason to discount the use of classical guitar (not lute) on Bach that will allow me to feel both well-informed and slightly snooty at once?
But in all seriousness, what's the group's take on the use of guitar? Respected practice? Are there any guidelines/performance rules which make for better and worse interpretations? Or is it just kind of a novelty for those who enjoy the sound of it?
Farhad Saheli wrote (April 3, 2004):
[To Craig Schweickert] OED gives 1957 as the first use of "ahistorical", but 1611 for "unhistorical", so maybe Microsoft has a point after all!
Johannes-Passion BWV 245: Details
Recordings: Until 1960 | 1960-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-2009 | Sung in English | Individual Movements
General Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
Systematic Discussions: Part 1: Mvts. 1-7 | Part 2: Mvts. 6-14 | Part 3: Mvts. 15-20 | Part 4: Mvts. 21-26 | Part 5: Mvts. 27-32 | Part 6: Mvts. 36-40 | Part 7: Summary
Individual Recordings: BWV 245 - Brüggen | BWV 245 - Cleobury | BWV 245 - Dombrecht | BWV 245 - Fasolis | BWV 245 - Gardiner | BWV 245 - Guttenberg | BWV 245 - Harnoncourt-Gillesberger | BWV 245 - Herreweghe | BWV 245 - Higginbottom | BWV 245 - Jochum | BWV 245 - Leusink | BWV 245 - Max | BWV 245 - McCreesh | BWV 245 - Neumann | BWV 245 - Parrott | BWV 245 - Pickett | BWV 245 - Richter | BWV 245 - Rilling | BWV 245 - Schreier | BWV 245 - Shaw | BWV 245 - Suzuki | BWV 245 - Veldhoven
Articles: Saint John Passion, BWV 245 [by Teri Noel Towe] | The Passion of Saint John, BWV 245 [by Michael Steinberg] | St. John Passion [by Audrey Wong & Norm Proctor] | The St. John Passion on stage [by Uri Golomb]
Diego Fasolis: Short Biography | Coro della Radio Svizzera | I Barocchisti | Ensemble Vanitas
Recordings: Part 1 | Part 2 | General Discussions
Individual Recordings: Motets - Fasolis | BWV 232 - Fasolis | BWV 244 - Fasolis | BWV 245 - Fasolis