Author Topic: Bach Johannes-Passion / St. John Passion  (Read 36479 times)

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Offline Bogey

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Bach Johannes-Passion / St. John Passion
« on: August 01, 2009, 05:08:26 AM »
Some time ago, I started a thread on Bach's St. Matthew Passion and it proved extremely helpful to me.

http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,4877.0.html

Now, I turn to searching for a recording of St. John Passion.  I am leaning toward this one, due to my enjoyment of this conductor's work I have of the St. Matthew:



However, revisiting some Gardiner cantatas yesterday and enjoying them along with this partial review makes me want to get some of your thoughts before making the leap:

You could spend many hours of listening and fill dozens of pages of text to expound the similarities, differences, felicities, inconsistencies, and relative merits of the many past and present recordings of Bach's St. John Passion. After all, we're dealing with a work that existed in at least four different versions in Bach's time and that today is performed from different stylistic points of view and using various editions. We usually hear some form of the original setting first presented in Leipzig in 1724, based on a partial-autograph score from 1739. This is known as the "first version" and it opens with one of Bach's grand choral movements "Herr, unser Herrscher". In Philipe Herreweghe's own "first" recording of this work with his Collegium Vocale Gent in 1987, he adopted this more-commonly performed version--and as carefully explained in the liner notes--also chose to use a female alto soloist for "subjective reasons" of timbre and expressive qualities.

Well, nearly 15 years later, Herreweghe has opted not only for the notably different "second" version (a revision that Bach produced in 1725, a year following the work's first performance) , but also seems to have found an ideal male alto in the person of countertenor extraordinaire Andreas Scholl. The immediate difference you hear is the absence of the original big chorus, which Bach replaced with the rather less ambitious chorale-based chorus "O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß" that he later used again in the St. Matthew Passion. Other differences concern substitution of several new arias for the original ones, and replacement of the final chorale "Ach Herr, laß dein lieb Engelein" with a more elaborate choral setting, "Christe, du Lamm Gottes".


Though they advocate more than one recording, I only want to purchase one at this time.  Thanks!

There will never be another era like the Golden Age of Hollywood.  We didn't know how to blow up buildings then so we had no choice but to tell great stories with great characters.-Ben Mankiewicz

DavidW

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Re: Bach Johannes-Passion / St. John Passion
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2009, 05:35:44 AM »
I might be the only fan that hasn't moved onto newer recordings-- but Karl Richter and the Munich Bach Choir and Orchestra is deeply satisfying. 0:)

Offline Bogey

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Re: Bach Johannes-Passion / St. John Passion
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2009, 05:41:32 AM »
I might be the only fan that hasn't moved onto newer recordings-- but Karl Richter and the Munich Bach Choir and Orchestra is deeply satisfying. 0:)

Is this the set you have, David, and if so, what are the dates of the Matthew and John recordings?
There will never be another era like the Golden Age of Hollywood.  We didn't know how to blow up buildings then so we had no choice but to tell great stories with great characters.-Ben Mankiewicz

Offline Coopmv

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Re: Bach Johannes-Passion / St. John Passion
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2009, 05:47:47 AM »
I might be the only fan that hasn't moved onto newer recordings-- but Karl Richter and the Munich Bach Choir and Orchestra is deeply satisfying. 0:)

The recording itself is fine but the DVD is terrible.  The cameraman shot more images of the wall and ceiling of the church where the "film" was originally shot with only occasional shots of the soloists.  My favorite mezzo of that era - Julia Hamari, only appeared on a few occasions that lasted less than a minute each.

DavidW

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Re: Bach Johannes-Passion / St. John Passion
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2009, 05:48:10 AM »
Is this the set you have, David, and if so, what are the dates of the Matthew and John recordings?

Yup and

St John = 1964
St Matthew = 1959

It's old school. ;D  It's not Klemperer-esque, but not Rifkin HIP either.  I think you describe Richter as part of the neo-Baroque Leipzig style, so you get lean textures and modest orchestra size.

DavidW

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Re: Bach Johannes-Passion / St. John Passion
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2009, 05:54:27 AM »
The recording itself is fine but the DVD is terrible.  The cameraman shot more images of the wall and ceiling of the church where the "film" was originally shot with only occasional shots of the soloists.  My favorite mezzo of that era - Julia Hamari, only appeared on a few occasions that lasted less than a minute each.

I don't have that, I have the older one on cd with Toepper instead of Hamari.

Offline Coopmv

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Re: Bach Johannes-Passion / St. John Passion
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2009, 05:55:04 AM »
Yup and

St John = 1964
St Matthew = 1959

It's old school. ;D  It's not Klemperer-esque, but not Rifkin HIP either.  I think you describe Richter as part of the neo-Baroque Leipzig style, so you get lean textures and modest orchestra size.


Dave,

You are not the only fan of Karl Richter at GMG - good music is good music and it does not have to be HIP.  I have every DVD of his Bach's works - from Brandenburg Concertos to his St. John Passion.  I also have the same works spread across multiple LP sets.  Most of Richter's recordings I own are on LP.  BTW, it is very cool to watch Karl Richter conducting - very relaxed but firmly in control ...

Offline Bogey

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Re: Bach Johannes-Passion / St. John Passion
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2009, 05:56:01 AM »
Yup and

St John = 1964
St Matthew = 1959

It's old school. ;D  It's not Klemperer-esque, but not Rifkin HIP either.  I think you describe Richter as part of the neo-Baroque Leipzig style, so you get lean textures and modest orchestra size.


In general, how do you rate Harnoncourt in your Bach listening, David?

I have Richter's St. Matthew.  I will give that a spin again momentarily, but I remember it was what prompted me to seek out another recording in the other thread....however, I know well enough to come back to recordings that I did not care for in the past and give them a fresh listen.  Besides, the John and Matthew recordings could be totally different and I may like the other.

The recording itself is fine but the DVD is terrible.  The cameraman shot more images of the wall and ceiling of the church where the "film" was originally shot with only occasional shots of the soloists.  My favorite mezzo of that era - Julia Hamari, only appeared on a few occasions that lasted less than a minute each.

How many different St. John's do you have, Stuart?
There will never be another era like the Golden Age of Hollywood.  We didn't know how to blow up buildings then so we had no choice but to tell great stories with great characters.-Ben Mankiewicz

DavidW

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Re: Bach Johannes-Passion / St. John Passion
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2009, 05:56:15 AM »


Dave,

You are not the only fan of Karl Richter at GMG - good music is good music and it does not have to be HIP.  I have every DVD of his Bach's works - from Brandenburg Concertos to his St. John Passion.  I also have the same works spread across multiple LP sets.  Most of Richter's recordings I own are on LP.  BTW, it is very cool to watch Karl Richter conducting - very relaxed but firmly in control ...

That's cool, I need to see if I can get one of those dvds from netflix. :)

Offline Coopmv

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Re: Bach Johannes-Passion / St. John Passion
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2009, 05:57:38 AM »
I don't have that, I have the older one on cd with Toepper instead of Hamari.

Indeed, Richter's St Matthew Passion on LP had Janet Baker as alto while the DVD had Julia Hamari.  The DVD and the CD are two different recordings ...

Offline Coopmv

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Re: Bach Johannes-Passion / St. John Passion
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2009, 06:00:52 AM »

In general, how do you rate Harnoncourt in your Bach listening, David?

I have Richter's St. Matthew.  I will give that a spin again momentarily, but I remember it was what prompted me to seek out another recording in the other thread....however, I know well enough to come back to recordings that I did not care for in the past and give them a fresh listen.  Besides, the John and Matthew recordings could be totally different and I may like the other.

How many different St. John's do you have, Stuart?

 

Bill,  3 sets on CD, 2 or may be 3 on LP and 1 on DVD.

DavidW

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Re: Bach Johannes-Passion / St. John Passion
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2009, 06:01:28 AM »
In general, how do you rate Harnoncourt in your Bach listening, David?

That's an interesting question because I've heard his older more traditional style in the secular orchestral works.  He put in much more of an effort to cultivate a lean proto-HIP (or maybe defining HIP) style in the cantatas.  I feel that his recordings of the former are miss, and the recordings of the latter are hit.  If you like what you've heard in the latter, I think the closest to Harnoncourt's approach in modern recordings is found in Rilling.

Offline Bogey

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Re: Bach Johannes-Passion / St. John Passion
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2009, 06:04:16 AM »
 

Bill,  3 sets on CD, 2 or may be 3 on LP and 1 on DVD.

What do you have on cd?
There will never be another era like the Golden Age of Hollywood.  We didn't know how to blow up buildings then so we had no choice but to tell great stories with great characters.-Ben Mankiewicz

Offline Coopmv

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Re: Bach Johannes-Passion / St. John Passion
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2009, 06:08:28 AM »
That's cool, I need to see if I can get one of those dvds from netflix. :)

The St Matthew Passion is definitely the one to watch.  I have no experience with netflix, is it straightly for rental?  

The Brandenburg Concertos is excellent too.  In my view, I think Richter's Brandenburg Concertos on DVD is HIP, though it was not performed on period instruments.  Richter varied the size of the ensemble based on the concertos and he conducted from the harpsichord when it was called for ...

Offline Bogey

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Re: Bach Johannes-Passion / St. John Passion
« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2009, 06:10:24 AM »

St Matthew = 1959


Ah, there may be a big difference as my Richter Matthew is from 1979, David.
There will never be another era like the Golden Age of Hollywood.  We didn't know how to blow up buildings then so we had no choice but to tell great stories with great characters.-Ben Mankiewicz

Offline Coopmv

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Re: Bach Johannes-Passion / St. John Passion
« Reply #15 on: August 01, 2009, 06:10:45 AM »
What do you have on cd?


St. John Passion   Munich Bach Orchestra/Richter
St. John Passion   English Chamber Orch/Leppard/Ameling
St. John Passion   English Baroque Soloists/Gardiner/Monteverdi

I am considering the version by Herreweghe ...

DavidW

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Re: Bach Johannes-Passion / St. John Passion
« Reply #16 on: August 01, 2009, 06:17:08 AM »
Ah, there may be a big difference as my Richter Matthew is from 1979, David.

I have a recording of his Messiah from the 70s and it's SOOOO different from his earlier Bach recordings that I would not be surprised if you had something a little less energetic.  Maybe coopmv can share his thoughts on the different recordings. :)

DavidW

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Re: Bach Johannes-Passion / St. John Passion
« Reply #17 on: August 01, 2009, 06:20:46 AM »
The St Matthew Passion is definitely the one to watch.  I have no experience with netflix, is it straightly for rental?  

Alright it's added to my queue. :)

Yeah netflix is strictly for rental.  Some time back they stopped selling dvds and walmart stopped renting them.  It's more profitable for the both of them that way.

Offline Novi

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Re: Bach Johannes-Passion / St. John Passion
« Reply #18 on: August 01, 2009, 06:21:33 AM »


Now, I turn to searching for a recording of St. John Passion.  I am leaning toward this one, due to my enjoyment of this conductor's work I have of the St. Matthew:




Bill, I have the Herreweghe 1725 version, and while I enjoy it - Scholl and Padmore stand out, as I recall - I see it more as a supplementary than an only recording. 'Herr, unser Herrscher' is more powerful and impressive an opening, perhaps my favourite part of the piece - I love. It was disconcerting the first time I played the CD to find myself in the middle of the St Matthew. :D
Durch alle Töne tönet
Im bunten Erdentraum
Ein leiser Ton gezogen
Für den der heimlich lauschet.

Offline Coopmv

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Re: Bach Johannes-Passion / St. John Passion
« Reply #19 on: August 01, 2009, 06:25:54 AM »
Alright it's added to my queue. :)

Yeah netflix is strictly for rental.  Some time back they stopped selling dvds and walmart stopped renting them.  It's more profitable for the both of them that way.

I have never been big on video.  However, for many classical music on DVD's, I prefer outright ownership.