Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

May 2003

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Bach, J S: St Matthew Passion, BWV244

Awards:

Presto Favourites

Recommended Recording

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - May 2003

Label:

DG Archiv

Catalogue No:

4742002

Discs:

2

Release date:

14th April 2003

Barcode:

0028947420026

Length:

2 hours 40 minutes

Medium:

CD (download also available)
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Bach, J S: St Matthew Passion, BWV244


Deborah York, Julia Gooding (sopranos), Magdalena Kozená, Susan Bickley (mezzo-sopranos), Mark Padmore - Evangelist, James Gilchrist (tenors), Peter Harvey - Jesus, Stephan Loges (basses)

Gabrieli Consort, Paul McCreesh

Sung with single-voice parts

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Johann Sebastian Bach: St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244

No.1 Chorus I/II: "Kommt, ihr Töchter, helft mir klagen"

No.2 Evangelist, Jesus: "Da Jesus diese Rede vollendet hatte"

No.3 Choral: "Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen"

No.4 Evangelist, Chorus I/II, Jesus: "Da versammelten sich die Hohenpriester"

No.5 Recitative (Alto): "Du lieber Heiland du"

No.6 Aria (Alto): "Buss und Reu"

No.7 Evangelist, Judas: "Da ging hin der Zwölfen einer"

No.8 Aria (Soprano): "Blute nur, du liebes Herz"

No.9 Evangelist, Chorus I, Jesus: "Aber am ersten Tage der süssen Brot"

No.10 Choral: "Ich bin's, ich sollte büssen"

No.11 Evangelist, Jesus, Judas: "Er antwortete und sprach"

No.12 Recitative (Soprano): "Wiewohl mein Herz in Tränen schwimmt"

No.13 Aria (Soprano): "Ich will dir mein Herz schenken"

No.14 Evangelist, Jesus: "Und da sie den Lobgesang gesprochen hatten"

No.15 Choral: "Erkenne mich, mein Hüter"

No.16 Evangelist, Jesus, Petrus: "Petrus aber antwortete"

No.17 Choral: "Ich will hier bei dir stehen"

No.18 Evangelist, Jesus: "Da kam Jesus mit ihnen zu einem Hofe"

No.19 Recitative (Tenor, Chorus II): "O Schmerz! hier zittert das gequälte Herz"

No.20 Aria (Tenor, Chorus II): "Ich will bei meinem Jesu wachen"

No.21 Evangelist, Jesus: "Und ging hin ein wenig"

No.22 Recitative (Bass): "Der Heiland fällt vor seinem Vater nieder"

No.23 Aria (Bass): "Gerne will ich mich bequemen"

No.24 Evangelist, Jesus: "Und er kam zu seinen Jüngern"

No.25 Choral: "Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit"

No.26 Evangelist, Jesus, Judas: "Und er kam und fand sie aber schlafend"

No.27 Aria (Soprano, Alto, Chorus II): "So ist mein Jesus nun gefangen" - Chorus I/II: "Sind Blitze, sind Donner"

No.28 Evangelist, Jesus: "Und siehe, einer aus denen"

No.29 Choral: "O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß"

No.30 Aria (Alto, Chorus II): "Ach nun ist mein Jesu hin"

No.31 Evangelist: "Die aber Jesum gegriffen hatten"

No.32 Choral: "Mir hat die Welt trüglich gericht"

No.33 Evangelist, Pontifex, Testis I/II: "Und wiewohl viel falsche Zeugen herzutraten"

No.34 Recitative (Tenor): "Mein Jesus schweigt zu falschen Lügen stille"

No.35 Aria (Tenor): "Geduld"

No.36 Evangelist, Pontifex, Jesus, Chorus I/II: "Und der Hohepriester antwortete"

No.37 Choral: "Wer hat dich so geschlagen"

No.38 Evangelist, Ancilla I/II, Petrus, Chorus II: "Petrus aber sass draussen im Palast"

No.39 Aria (Alto): "Erbarme dich"

No.40 Choral: "Bin ich gleich von dir gewichen"

No.41 Evangelist, Judas, Chorus I/II, Pontifex I/II: "Des Morgens aber hielten alle Hohepriester"

No.42 Aria (Bass): "Gebt mir meinen Jesum wieder"

No.43 Evangelist, Pilatus, Jesus: "Sie hielten aber einen Rat"

No.44 Choral: "Befiel du deine Wege"

No.45 Evangelist, Pilatus, Uxor Pilati, Chorus I/II: "Auf das Fest aber hatte der Landpfleger Gewohnheit"

No.46 Choral: "Wie wunderbarlich ist doch diese Strafe"

No.47 Evangelist, Pilatus: "Der Landpfleger sagte"

No.48 Recitative (Soprano): "Er hat uns allen wohl getan"

No.49 Aria (Soprano): "Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben"

No.50 Evangelist, Chorus I/II, Pilatus: "Sie schrieen aber noch mehr"

No.51 Recitative (Alto): "Erbarm es Gott"

No.52 Aria (Alto): "Können Tränen meiner Wangen"

No.53 Evangelist, Chorus I/II: "Da nahmen die Kriegsknechte"

No.54 Choral: "O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden"

No.55 Evangelist: "Und da sie ihn verspottet hatten"

No.56 Recitative (Bass): "Ja freilich will in uns das Fleisch und Blut"

No.57 Aria (Bass): "Komm, süsses Kreuz"

No.58 Evangelist, Chorus I/II: "Und da sie an die Stätte kamen"

No.59 Recitative (Alto): "Ach Golgatha"

No.60 Aria (Alto, Chorus II): "Sehet, Jesus hat die Hand"

No.61 Evangelist, Jesus, Chorus I/II: "Und von der sechsten Stunde an"

No.62 Choral: "Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden"

No.63 Evangelist, Chorus I/II: "Und siehe da, der Vorhang im Tempel zerriss"

No.64 Recitative (Bass): "Am Abend, da es kühle war"

No.65 Aria (Bass): "Mache dich, mein Herze, rein"

No.66 Evangelist, Chorus I/II, Pilatus: "Und Joseph nahm den Leib"

No.67 Recitative (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, Chorus II): "Nun ist der Herr zur Ruh gebracht"

No.68 Chorus I/II: "Wir setzen uns mit Tränen nieder"

Gramophone Classical Music Guide

2010

“In the distinguished performance history of the Great Passion, this is a dynamic and powerful reading. What we have here, primarily, is a compelling directorial vision, a dramatically cohesive whole. The only 'controversial' aspect is the use of single voices in the chorus, thereby applying the research presented in the last two decades by Joshua Rifkin and Andrew Parrott.
However, as it happens, Paul McCreesh sees this option as a flexible way of enhancing the rich expressive possibilities of the St Matthew, a means to a somewhat greater end, thankfully, than joining the band of zealots who seek world domination in Bach vocal performance. And there can be no denying that McCreesh uses the single voices to great and encouraging effect.
The warm intimacy of expression in the chorales is often spellbinding, the lucid realism of the madrigalian commentaries touchingly palpable and the crowd scenes almost crazed, as if you were among the mob. McCreesh's pragmatism also ensures that his quality singers produce a rich tonal body rather than a pushed, squawking consort.
There's some outstandingly characterised singing to be heard here, and a few missed opportunities too. Deborah York sounds somewhat al dente in her soprano arias, a limited emotional range partly accentuated by the colour and subtlety of expression of Magdalena KoOená's 'Buss und Reu' as well as the enraptured and troubled 'Ach, nun ist mein Jesus hin!'. Mark Padmore's Evangelist is highly charged and responsive: at times he hovers, regaling the facts of the matter with disarming poise; at others he becomes agitated, even manic. He seems somehow implicated in Peter's denial in a tableau performed with quite remarkable dramatic power, setting up KoOená's 'Erbarme dich'. Hers is one of the most painfully beautiful performances in years, even if the violin obbligato bulges rather too much.
Of the two basses, the Christus of Peter Harvey conveys neither gilded halo nor testosterone- fired ruddiness but he remains an effective and constant companion. Stephan Loges is rhetorically imploring in timbre, unafraid to take risks and a singer you listen to attentively.
There's yet to be a clear leader in St MatthewPassion recordings, even if that were desirable.
The quality of the production is mainly firstrate, though there are the usual dips and troughs you expect from such a challenging undertaking.
'Können Tränen' is a scrappy and flat affair with a strangely below-par Susan Bickley, and the strings aren't always universally impressive.
Overall, if not as culturally resonant as Harnoncourt's remarkably mature and poetic reading, McCreesh's interpretation has an unremitting singularity of purpose, as aesthetically Protestant as Harnoncourt's is Catholic. A memorable and vitally conceived account.”

Penguin Guide

2010

***

“Though Paul McCreesh uses minimum forces for Bach's masterpiece, with one voice per part, the result has the sharpest dramatic impact, thanks not only to the incisiveness of the performance but also to the vivid immediacy of the recorded sound.”

Presto Classical

David Smith

“Paul McCreesh's audacious decision to use just eight singers makes for an unusual performance - albeit one that is backed by recent research. Whatever the answer to the intractable question of authenticity, the musical rewards are rich - a more intimate and vastly clearer vision of the work. The crowd scenes in particular seem paradoxically more ferocious despite the smaller forces.”

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