Bach: St. Matthew Passion

Bach: St. Matthew Passion

5.0 1
by Paul McCreesh
     
 
Conductor Paul McCreesh offers a surprise with this version of the St. Matthew Passion: There is no chorus. That's right -- in this radical tactic, McCreesh follows the examples of Andrew Parrott and especially Joshua Rifkin, who have released ear-opening,

Overview

Conductor Paul McCreesh offers a surprise with this version of the St. Matthew Passion: There is no chorus. That's right -- in this radical tactic, McCreesh follows the examples of Andrew Parrott and especially Joshua Rifkin, who have released ear-opening, one-voice-per-part recordings of the B Minor Mass. Documentary evidence suggests that Bach used similarly pared-down forces while he was chapel master in Leipzig. Evidently, McCreesh also finds this reasoning compelling, yet he sees strong artistic merits, too, arguing that the choruses are "infinitely more characterful" when sung by solo voices and that the details in the orchestral writing come through much more clearly. Listen to this recording, and most likely you'll agree. Here is a St. Matthew Passion of extraordinary transparency and elegance. True, it may lack the nth degree of dramatic impact of more traditional versions, even other "historically informed" recordings, such as John Eliot Gardiner's. Still, in its own terms, McCreesh's vision is entirely convincing and at times nothing short of revelatory. Of course, it helps to have A-list musicians, and McCreesh has assembled an impressive vocal lineup indeed, including the always-ravishing Magdalena Kozená, who delivers a sensitively phrased "Erbarme dich," Mark Padmore as a sweet-toned Evangelist, and the resonant baritone of Peter Harvey as Jesus. The Gabrieli Players offer predictably stylish orchestral support. The tempos, by and large, are leisurely -- all the better to savor the experience of this remarkable recording. Required listening for all Bachians.

Editorial Reviews

Gramophone - Jonathan Freeman-Attwood
[May 2003 CD of the Month] In the distinguished performance history of the Great Passion, this is a dynamic and powerful new reading.... There is some outstandingly characterized singing to be heard here.... A memorably and vitally conceived new account.
International Record Review - Simon Heighes
This is the most radical reassessment of the St. Matthew Passion since Nikolaus Harnoncourt's pioneering period-instrument recording some 30 years ago. McCreesh's version may not be flawless, but to my ears it is a marvellous first attempt at recording the work with very small-scale forces -- in fact, it's a complete vindication of the approach.
BBC Online - Graeme Kay
Padmore is now the leading British Evangelist of his generation, but all eight singers rise impeccably to the twin challenges of distinctive solo arias and blending as a chorus. The set as a whole exudes an entirely captivating intimacy: the moments of highest drama, paradoxically, are enhanced and not diminished by the absence of a big chorus.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/08/2003
Label:
Deutsche Grammophon
UPC:
0028947420026
catalogNumber:
000005702
Rank:
146116

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Matthäuspassion (St. Matthew Passion), BWV 244  - Johann Sebastian Bach  - Paul McCreesh  - Peter Harvey  - Stephan Loges  -  Gabrieli Consort & Players  - Magdalena Kozená  - Susan Bickley  - Julia Gooding  - Deborah York  - James Gilchrist  - Mark Padmore

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Bach: St. Matthew Passion 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This rendition of St. Matthew's Passion is a wonderful work of art. Words cannot accurately describe the beauty of the music. I will be purchasing more of McCreesh's works on the basis of this rendition.