Bach, J S: St Matthew Passion, BWV244

Berliner Philharmoniker: BPH120011

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Bach, J S: St Matthew Passion, BWV244


Gramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - July 2012

Catalogue No:




Release date:

28th May 2012




DVD Video




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Bach, J S: St Matthew Passion, BWV244

A ritualisation by Peter Sellars

Mark Padmore (Evangelist), Christian Gerhaher (Jesus), Camilla Tilling (soprano), Magdalena Kozena (mezzo), Topi Lehtipuu (tenor), Thomas Quasthoff (bass)

Berliner Philharmoniker, Rundfunkchor Berlin, Knaben des Staats- und Domchors Berlin, Sir Simon Rattle

DVD Video - 2 discs


Usually despatched in 8 - 10 working days.

Recorded live at the Philharmonie Berlin on 11th April 2010

It is no surprise that Sir Simon would one day tackle this most comprehensive of Bach’s compositions in view of his much applauded interpretation of the St. John Passion in 2006. The Berliner Morgenpost wrote at the time: “A performance of this musical calibre renders superfluous all questions about authenticity and historical performance practice. At the Philharmonie Sir Simon Rattle and his orchestra performed the St. John Passion [...] with highly concentrated and flawless beauty devoid of any distorting indulgence.”

German daily Die Welt hailed this performance of the St. Matthew Passion as “Simon Rattle’s Easter miracle,” and The Guardian in the UK wrote: “I challenge you not to be an emotional wreck by the end of it: the singers, especially Mark Padmore as the Evangelist, give the performance of their lives; Sellars sensitively connects the Passion story with the performances and the audience, without distorting Bach’s drama; and Rattle and his players are collectively raised to spooky, spiritual levels of inspiration.”

Both the double-disc DVD and Blu-ray editions contain booklets with introductory texts, biographies and photos. Bonus footage includes a conversation between Peter Sellars and Simon Halsey, conductor of the Rundfunkchor Berlin.

Subtitles: English, German, French, Spanish and Japanese

Running time: 195 mins (concert); 51 mins (bonus feature)

Picture format: NTSC

Audio formats: PCM Stereo

Dolby Digital 5.1

DTS 5.1

Please Note: JAPAN - For contractual reasons, we are unfortunately not allowed to sell this product to customers in Japan.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

Gramophone Magazine

July 2012

“The long rehearsal period, the expertise of everyone involved and the authority of the solo singers: all this quickly becomes evident...All the soloists embody their roles to an engrossing degree of identification...this is a defiantly modern performance, one that exults in disturbance and the irony that arises from a deeply intimate staging within the round of the Berlin Philharmonie: appropriate in terms of architectural politics but jarringly opulent and public.”

BBC Music Magazine

September 2012


“Some of Sellars's gestures...are searing, and the rapt attention of the audience leaps out of the screen...Padmore is a great Evangelist and this must be his greatest performance of the role...while the symbiosis entwining vocal and instrumental soloists leavens Simon Rattle's compelling musical direction. Ultimately, a St Matthew Passion even greater than the sum of its parts - and they were already pretty awesome to being with!”

New York Times

23rd November 2012

“It sounded like a risky undertaking...but the resulting “ritualization” of Bach’s oratorio, captured on DVD, is most riveting and moving. Mr. Sellars has the choirs and orchestras facing each other in the round, turning the Passion into a soul-searching dialogue between individual and society, man and God. Instrumentalists and singers, too, enter into communion with one another”

Presto Classical

Katherine Cooper

4th June 2012

“Sellars hasn’t dramatised the work as such, but simply freed it from the static confines of a standard concert-performance by breaking down the barriers between performance and audience...Padmore here becomes a man re-living and articulating these terrible events for the first time...The reduced-force Berlin Phil players are – predictably – superb.”

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