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St Matthew Passion [Import]

Bach , Koussevitsky , Vreeland , Meisle , Priebe Audio CD

Price: CDN$ 96.98
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A fascinating step back in time, this--a live performance in Symphony Hall, Boston, on Good Friday 1937, with several refugees from Nazi Germany among the performers. Never mind the variable sound (generally, it's more than acceptable), the RCA engineers performed miracles during a nerve-jangling, one-chance-only exercise. You would expect a more obviously reverential performance than today's practice, but while speeds are indeed achingly slow at times, and what we would hear as sentimentality does show through (how Jeanette Vreeland scoops and swoops), there are fascinating glimpses of "modern" Bach style. For example, the choruses (as opposed to chorales, which crawl along) have plenty of bite and dramatic character; those that open and close the work have a surprisingly natural flow. Credit the legendary Koussevitsky--most obviously associated with the contemporary music of his day--for apparently thinking plenty out afresh. And original instruments (praise be!) have a place, not least a harpsichord to accompany recitatives. John Priebe is strangely slow to warm up as the Evangelist, but gets there in the end. Katherine Meisle impresses, but the star performer is British baritone Keith Faulkner as Jesus. Rocklike sound allied to intelligence and personality. --Andrew Green

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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Koussevitsky's "St. Matthew Passion": an Excellent Example of 1930s Style March 31 2013
By Gottlob - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
If you're totally wed to "stylistic Baroque", this recording will not be for you; but if you can get past considerations of performing style and just focus on the text of this, the greatest composition ever written, this recording will be your cup of tea. It's sung in English, which does pose problems, since getting a reasonable translation that will also fit the music is nearly impossible; however, the translation used here is presented with remarkably clear diction by soloists and chorus alike. Unfortunately, there are some minor cuts, particularly in da capo arias, and the second verse of the familiar "O Sacred Head" is omitted, however, the performance moves along quite smoothly, albeit, the portamentos might be a bit disturbing to today's audiences. Another remarkable fact about the recording is that it was made "live" by RCA Victor, and laid out on the spot for 27 78rpm discs. Fortunately, though, we can now enjoy this engineering feat on three CDs, courtesy of Rockport records. Four stars.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't prejudge July 18 2013
By Micah D. Schmidt - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Bach in English? Scoops and swoops? Old? Although this recording has some features that make its recording difficult to listen to at first, once the listener shuts their mind and opens their ears and heart, the music and musicianship will immerse the listener into the very suffering and death of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
ARRAY(0xb1283924)

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