Author Topic: Bach's St. Matthew Passion  (Read 100584 times)

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Offline Biffo

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Re: Bach's St. Matthew Passion
« Reply #380 on: April 07, 2019, 11:45:35 PM »
After three years of inactivity,  anything new?  :)

Q

Nothing new from me. The last version I bought was from Rene Jacobs (harmonia mundi) in 2015. I usually like Jacobs' recordings but this was disappointing, not incisive enough for me. I am sure I seen/heard new versions reviewed and possibly even sampled them but none stick in my mind.

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Re: Bach's St. Matthew Passion
« Reply #381 on: April 08, 2019, 07:04:18 AM »
After three years of inactivity,  anything new?  :)

Q

Unless Kurt Equiluz comes out of retirement, I have no need for more recordings of the St Matthew Passion.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Bach's St. Matthew Passion
« Reply #382 on: April 08, 2019, 08:13:21 PM »


I’ve been listening to Egarr’s operatic interpretation of the first (1727) version. He says this in the booklet

Quote
I encouraged all the players and singers to take risks with timing and freedom of expression, both in note, word and ornamental deed. I feel this music is so rich and demands a flexibility of tempo and dynamic equal to any found in the 19th century, although of course delivered with the sensibilities of the 17th and 18th centuries.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2019, 08:17:23 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline knight66

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Re: Bach's St. Matthew Passion
« Reply #383 on: April 08, 2019, 09:50:48 PM »


I’ve been listening to Egarr’s operatic interpretation of the first (1727) version. He says this in the booklet

I have also been listening to this recording. I bought it as my musical prep for this year’s Easter.

This is one of, I think, only three recordings of this earlier 1727 version of the piece. I find it refreshing and it surprises the ear with the many small differences in vocal lines and the one or two more substantial differences. Additionally, the conductor, Richard Egarr is fairly interventionist.

Some obvious differences are that the ripieno in the opening chorus is taken by organ and woodwind and is less prominent than that soaring soprano line contribution in the later version. The great final chorus of the first part is missing, instead we have a fairly perfunctory chorale. And the bass aria normally accompanied by viola da gamba has instead, a mandolin.

The manuscript indicates in Bach’s hand some tempo alterations within numbers and this is taken as justification for introducing gear changes in various places, most noticably in the opening chorus. Taken at quite a lick, the middle section is speeded up. Describing this to me, I am sure I would not like it, but listening to it, it provided a real sense of urgency. And here we get a clue to the whole approach. While not devoid of introspection, the thrust of this performance is dramatic storytelling. I do sometimes feel rushed and I really value and prefer some stasis at key points of the journey, but I really was swept up in this entire approach.

Another stylistic choice first shows up in the initial alto solo where the instrumental bars are provided with fermatas, leaning into the woodwind notes. This is a mannerism to far, but is over quite quickly.

The soloists are exceptional. James Gilchrist is absolutely the the right narrator to hold all this together. A crystalline, pure voice, clear, clean, sweet and with a  dramatic grip on proceedings. Maltman is superb, and Sarah Connolly also is pure pleasure. We lose one of her arias to Christopher Maltman, but that is loss and equal gain. Matthew Rose has warmth and Elizabeth Watts has purity. Her duet with Connolly is a high point, though the dramatic double chorus after it lacks visceral impact.

The chorus is two or three to a part and I don't notice the separation between chorus 1 and chorus 2. The various solo players are excellent and the Academy of Ancient Music is of course polished.

I enjoy the performance a lot, despite feeling that the conductor has rather thrust his ideas at us. Although swift in the main, I feel that is mostly to serve and stress the drama whereas in Gardiner’s first version, I always felt his main aim was to prove that he was not Klemperer. So I am glad to add this set to the group of performances I have of the later standard version of the score. It is a good palate cleanser and made me think of the choices Bach had taken to arrive at what we regard as a cornerstone of Western music.

Mike
« Last Edit: April 08, 2019, 09:53:24 PM by knight66 »
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Offline Marc

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Re: Bach's St. Matthew Passion
« Reply #384 on: April 08, 2019, 10:27:13 PM »
Unless Kurt Equiluz comes out of retirement, I have no need for more recordings of the St Matthew Passion.

:laugh:
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Offline Marc

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Re: Bach's St. Matthew Passion
« Reply #385 on: April 09, 2019, 09:06:28 PM »
[...]

Some obvious differences are that the ripieno in the opening chorus is taken by organ and woodwind and is less prominent than that soaring soprano line contribution in the later version. The great final chorus of the first part is missing, instead we have a fairly perfunctory chorale. And the bass aria normally accompanied by viola da gamba has instead, a mandolin. [...]

I think it's a lute.
Not able to check it out right now, but, iirc, the lute is only accompanied by an organ continuo (so no violoncello or bass viol, either).

Personally, I prefer the gamba et al of the later version... it makes the tough and painful walk, with all its struggles, more 'visual', whilst the gamba sound also adds something to the sweetness of this suffering. That's probably what I like so much about instruments like gamba and viola d'amore... to my ears, their sounds add both sweetness and harshness.
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Offline knight66

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Re: Bach's St. Matthew Passion
« Reply #386 on: April 09, 2019, 10:01:13 PM »
It might be a lute, I can’t check it as I am now away from home on holiday. I had never heard anything other than the da gamba before. The original idea is much more gentle and the da gamba is a brilliant idea to convey the staggering gait of Jesus carrying the cross. Hearing the original is what, for me, threw that light on the great musical imagery of the revision. I like both.

Mike
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Offline Marc

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Re: Bach's St. Matthew Passion
« Reply #387 on: April 09, 2019, 10:32:59 PM »
It might be a lute, I can’t check it as I am now away from home on holiday. I had never heard anything other than the da gamba before. The original idea is much more gentle and the da gamba is a brilliant idea to convey the staggering gait of Jesus carrying the cross. Hearing the original is what, for me, threw that light on the great musical imagery of the revision. I like both.

Mike

My parents took me to 'their' Matthäus from 1980 on (they sang in an amateur choir), and  the conductor there already chose for a lute, which she explained in the concert booklet by saying that this was according to the first version. She also included the choral "Jesum laß ich nicht von mir" at the end of part 1, combined with the well known "O Mensch...". (So both chorals were sung.)
By doing this, she gave the children who sang the soprani in ripieno (including my sister) more to do. She also added the children's choir to the choral "Was mein Gott will..." to make it sound 'extra strongk' ;).
Well, lots of fun and lots to play with, in this beautiful work!

The bonus to these performances was the Evangelist Howard Crook, who was failry unknown at that point. But that changed very soon!
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