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1998 St. Matthew Passion
Price:$169.98+$3.49shipping

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on May 26, 2001
In 1972 I heard a new recording of the St. Matthew's which remains my first choice. I did not see it available in cd so I went with the one which sounded most likely to approximate the beauty and reverence of the one from thirty years ago. Was I wrong. The one I love is very rich not from over production but from the detail of color available. Each voice both human and instrumental comes through clearly, promptly and with a definite idea of where it will go next. I thought this version to be adequate, but hardly in the tradition of baroque purity. Several times I felt that the producers of the album were confusing Bach with Brahms when they laid down tracks. Many of the most melodious sections became muddied and even lost because of one voice being too loud to let another come through. I haven't heard my favorite version for some time since my turntable is nonfunctional, but I guess this one will grow on me with time.
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on March 18, 2000
The acme of Johann Sebastian Bach's choral works, the "St. Matthew Passion", is generally well-performed on this CD. I am not at all happy, however, with the overly fast tempi of some of the choruses and many of the arias. The opening chorus, highly "caffeineated", should have set a more serious tone for the succeeding body of music. Instead, it is glossed over as if it were a jig. Some of the arias race along without affording the listener ample time to let the chords settle in... a serious flaw in an otherwise good CD. I would recommend this CD for one reason especially...Ian Bostridge. His Evangelist has no equal. His expressiveness and musicality are in strong supply here and he sings a most difficult role with great care. It is a pleasure to hear this young tenor.
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on July 6, 2000
I already owned a wonderful version of Bach's sublime "Passion," but I purchased this one simply because I am a huge fan of the tenor, Ian Bostridge. It was worth every penny. This is, simply, the most beautiful version of this magnificent music that I have ever heard. And Bostridge is absolutely first rate as the "Evangelist." But then every soloist, the orchestra and the chorus are everything one could hope for. The sound is, as I have come to expect from the Harmonia Mundi label, absolutely full and rich and crisp. I have only looked briefly at the extra cd-rom, but it looks interesting and worthwhile. This is a dream recording that I shall own and play with great happiness.
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Ian Bostridge is an outstanding Evangelist. Crystal clear diction. He brings more drama to it than those who sing it without "personality". More "input": not simply dispassionate narration/scene-setting for the dialogues and arias. This is no mere historian of the events, or spectator. St Matthew's excitement and involvement/commitment are palpable, without loss of the narrator's essential authority. He gives it the quality of an eye-witness account. Easy to overdo this approach - but he pulls it off with perfect balance. I bought the CD for Andreas Scholl, who is wonderful, but I have to admit that Bostridge is the star among these soloists, who are all way, way above average.
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Ian Bostridge is an outstanding Evangelist. Crystal clear diction. He brings more drama to it than those who sing it without "personality". More "input": not simply dispassionate narration/scene-setting for the dialogues and arias. This is no mere historian of the events, or spectator. St Matthew's excitement and involvement/commitment are palpable, without loss of the narrator's essential authority. He gives it the quality of an eye-witness account. Easy to overdo this approach - but he pulls it off with perfect balance. I bought the CD for Andreas Scholl, who is wonderful, but I have to admit that Bostridge is the star among these soloists, who are all way, way above average.
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on October 16, 2001
What else can I say. I can appreciate the courage in every sound note, there are many enjoyable surprises when comparing the melodies with other versions I have (Gardiner, Leonhardt, Richter), singers and instrument players are really very embodied in the work, the advanced technology in sound helps so much. The presentation of the work is also impressive; at least the version I bought contains "a manual" with the explanation of the work, the index and the lyric. 3 Cds contains the work and one interactive CD for computer which gives a valuable information of the referred work.
If Herreweghe wanted to impress to demanding listeners, I think he got it with this also impressive Bach's work!!
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on April 25, 2000
I just finished a performance of St. Matthew Passion in Honolulu...historically accurate...the only thing we didn't have was period instruments. This recording has it all...the instruments and what must be as close to Bach's original tempos as one could hope for. Laid along side the Klemperer performance, the soloists in the Herreweghe treat the piece technically inline with the baroque style...though they were giants of the day, Klemperer's soloists leave out every ornament...and his tempo's are sooooooooooo slowwwww[...] If you can't find the Leonhardt recording (which I have yet to find myself), this is the one to buy!
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on January 11, 2000
I am 65 years of age and have loved the music of J.S. Bach since my college days at SMSU in Springfield,Mo. The St. Matthew Passion is my favorite choral work of Bach,s. This CD represents a fresh interpretation of this masterpiece. The singing is excellent as is the blalance and blend of the chorus. In general; however, I find the tempi somewhat too fast in general for my taste. Thus far, I have not found a better rendishion of this work than the one recorder on Palm Sunday in 1939 by the Concertgebeou Orchestra. It is so moving.
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on February 17, 2000
Yes, I know there's not much of a chance of anybody reading this, but I just feel I have to voice my sentiments. so here: Know the feeling when you THINK you know a musical work inside out and then comes along something else, something that makes it twist and turn anew in your insides, and burn and hurt and make you sigh with beauty and longing? well, thats the case here. No more to add! (except - way to go, Ian! - and Philippe, certainly...)
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on November 26, 1999
Herreweghes recording of the St Matthew passion is without any doubt a miracle! I have had some high expetations of this record, but I never thought it would be this good! The orchestra playing, the instrumental soloists, the singers, the choir etc. It's actually beyond words. It's even better then the Gardiner recording which is superb also. I won't write anything more, just go and listen for yourself and you'll be amazed, I promise!
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