J.S. Bach: Matthäus-Passion

J.S. Bach: Matthäus-Passion

by Masaaki Suzuki
     
 

This ineffably moving performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion should not surprise anyone familiar with Masaaki Suzuki's superb Bach cantata series. The Japanese conductor's sweet-toned chorus and pliant period-instrument orchestra rival Europe's premier Early Music ensembles, and the sincerity and dedication of his interpretation isSee more details below

Overview

This ineffably moving performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion should not surprise anyone familiar with Masaaki Suzuki's superb Bach cantata series. The Japanese conductor's sweet-toned chorus and pliant period-instrument orchestra rival Europe's premier Early Music ensembles, and the sincerity and dedication of his interpretation is equaled only by Otto Klemperer's classic recording. Suzuki's approach to Bach's masterpiece couldn't be more different than Klemperer's, however. Where Klemperer is monumental, Suzuki is tender, confidential, and sometimes even delicate. Listen, for example, to the fragility of "Erbarme dich," the great alto aria in Part Two, sung here with innocent, boyish grace by countertenor Robin Blaze. Tempos are splendidly judged throughout, creating dramatic momentum without sacrificing any of the music's essential solemnity. This quality is especially striking in the chorales, which are gently sculpted in long, flowing phrases. Philippe Herreweghe's justly acclaimed 1999 Harmonia Mundi recording offers a much starrier lineup of soloists (led by Ian Bostridge and Andreas Scholl), but Suzuki's fine team of smaller, lighter voices increases the sense of intimacy. There's no question that this is an exceptional interpretation. Klemperer, Herreweghe, and most other conductors present the St. Matthew Passion as theater on a grand scale; Suzuki is more like a storyteller. And strangely enough, his subtlety and restraint actually intensify the music's dramatic impact. The BIS engineers have provided a warm, resonant ambiance that envelops the performance in a sonic halo. For all its quiet power and beauty, Suzuki's recording won't replace Klemperer's on my shelf, but it will take a proud spot by its side.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Jim Svejda
Anyone taken aback by the suggestion that Japan has become a leading center for the performance and recording of Bach's sacred music hasn't heard Masaaki Suzuki's Bach Collegium Japan. Suzuki has embarked on an ambitious project to record all of the Bach cantatas for Robert von Bahr's adventurous BIS label, and on the evidence of the ten volumes issued thus far, it may prove to be the most consistently exciting cycle yet. All of Suzuki's strengths as a Bach conductor are on conspicuous display in his new version of the composer's ST. MATTHEW PASSION. Like Karl Richter's Munich Bach Chorus and Orchestra, the Bach Collegium Japan is made up almost entirely of youthful musicians whose dedication and enthusiasm is obvious in every bar. As in his cantata recordings, Suzuki's choice of tempos -- to say nothing of the crucial relationships among the tempos -- seems close to ideal: This is a MATTHEW PASSION that neither races nor drags. The warm, richly musical playing is matched by an appealing combination of freshness and ardor in the singing, both from the soloists and the all-important chorus. Enhanced by utterly natural yet beautifully detailed recorded sound, this new ST. MATTHEW PASSION is one of the most compelling on the market today.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/14/2000
Label:
Bis
UPC:
7318591000020
catalogNumber:
1000/2
Rank:
272994

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Tracks

  1. Matthäuspassion (St. Matthew Passion), BWV 244  - Johann Sebastian Bach  - Nancy Argenta  - Alfredo Bernardini  - Masako Hirao  - Makoto Sakurada  - Masaaki Suzuki  - Gerd Türk  - Natsumi Wakamatsu  - Natsumi Wakamatsu  - Liliko Maeda  - Kiyomi Suga  -  Bach Collegium Japan Chorus  -  Bach Collegium Japan Orchestra  - Peter Kooij  - Midori Suzuki  - Kirsten Solleck-Avella  - Jun Hagiwara  - Yoshie Hida  - Tetsuya Odagawa  - Chiyuki Urano  -  Shizuoka Children's Choir  - Hiroko Tozaki  - Reiko Watanabe

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