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27 Reviews
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5.0 out of 5 stars bleed on my dear heart, June 11 2000
By 
J. C. Woods "silvannus" (Malden, MA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: 1998 St. Matthew Passion (Audio CD)
Wow! This album is purely fluid and emotionally riveting. Yes, the CdRom is good, especially if you don't know german. With the CDRom in your computer you can listen to the entire oratorio with a simultaneous English translation on the screen. But the CD is where the album really shines. This is not simply a presentation of the Gospel. The two choirs comment on the action as the story unfolds, angrily, pleadingly, entreatingly. The choirs make the appeal to the audience. Beseeching them, pardon me, beseeching us, in the light of Christ's sacrifice, to repent. On a second level, the soloists react emotionally as individuals to the action of the Gospel. The effect is rather like Greek tragedy, with a chorus behind the actors commenting on the action. In the foreground, Ian Bostridge and FJ Selig are a masterful duo as Evangelist and Jesus carry to motive weight of the oratorio. Half the time I don't know what they are saying, but the music is so powerful and so powerfully performed that I find myself reacting emotionally. And, when I know what they are saying, it's even more instense. The Passion is the perfect matching of form and content. Herrewege's realization of the passion sets the most perfect content in the most perfect form. The tempi is perfect. The emotional intensity is right. It breathes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous, May 15 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: 1998 St. Matthew Passion (Audio CD)
Until this one came along, John Eliot Gardiner's recording had no competition - now it has. There can be no higher praise.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Oustanding Evangelist in Ian Bostridge, May 2 2000
By 
J. R. Gunsell "Maglinders" (Cambridge, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: 1998 St. Matthew Passion (Audio CD)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Oustanding Evangelist in Ian Bostridge, May 2 2000
By 
J. R. Gunsell "Maglinders" (Cambridge, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: 1998 St. Matthew Passion (Audio CD)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Very dramatic, April 30 2000
This review is from: 1998 St. Matthew Passion (Audio CD)
First, the two minor problems with this recording. The first is the choral sound in some places: it is not as detailed as it should be. The problem probably has to do with placement in relation to the orchestra. The second problem is an interpretative instead of technical one. It seems to me that, at times, this recording moves away from being contemplative and towards being dramatic. Of course I realize that the content of the work is emotional, and in some way needs a dramatic reading. But on the other hand I think that the performance of this work should let that powerful content support itself; i.e., not force the emotion on the listener. But having said that I very much enjoy this recording. The choral sound is grand and majestic. Ian Bostridge makes a very convincing evangelist. Selig does as stunning job as Jesus. The remaining soloists are more than solid. Overall this recording does an excellent job conveying the mystery and power which is such an integral part of this music. Warmly recommended...
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5.0 out of 5 stars This interp. does this work justice..., April 25 2000
By 
Mark A. Boyle "MAB" (Muncie, IN USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 1998 St. Matthew Passion (Audio CD)
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Serenity is a two-edge... (something), March 20 2000
By 
Michael Pak (Binyamina, Israel) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 1998 St. Matthew Passion (Audio CD)
Good things: splendid singing, glorious orchestral playing, nice CDROM... Not-so-good things: Chorus sometimes sounds a bit anemic, Herreweghe's approach is, as usual, to calm things down. There is some lack of a real "passion".
Bottom line: Calm, serene Matthew passion. But what playing and singing!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but minor disappointments, March 19 2000
By 
Jon Hunt "musician, teacher" (Old Greenwich, Ct. USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 1998 St. Matthew Passion (Audio CD)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars DEFINITIVE, Feb. 18 2000
By 
"vocalfanatic" (Ramat-Hasharon Israel) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 1998 St. Matthew Passion (Audio CD)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars A monument in Bach recording history, Jan. 24 2000
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This review is from: 1998 St. Matthew Passion (Audio CD)
Finally, a recording of the Passion that dances! Herreweghe's recording should now be the benchmark by which all Bach recordings should be compared. No longer shall the continual argument of authenticity and performance practice limit the performance of Bach's music to mere scholastic rhetoric. Herreweghe most graciously remembers that all baroque music was some form of dance (try dancing to Klemperer's recording and you'll see what I mean) and that the rhythmic impulse in Bach's music is just as important as any harmony, melody or counterpoint. You will be hard pressed to find a more alive, soulful recording of Bach anywhere else. Imagine the intense drama and rich sonority of great conductors such as Fürtwangler and Klemperer, but without the suffocating and brutal self-flagellation. Herreweghe has found a way in which Bach can both breathe and explode at the same time. This recording is now the highlight of my extensive collection, and looks to be for a long time.
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1998 St. Matthew Passion
1998 St. Matthew Passion by Philippe Herreweghe (Audio CD - 1999)
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