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Thread: Favorite St. Matthew's Passion

  1. #196
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reichstag aus LICHT View Post
    Quite, and the urgency is implicit in the libretto. A composer of Bach's genius wouldn't have wanted such urgent exchanges as "Sehet! - Wen? - Den Bräutigam!" (etc) to have happened at a dragging pace. Since when were exhortations to "behold!" intoned in a non-urgent manner? Even "Kommt... helft mir klagen" is in the imperative, a call for action, not a lugubrious plea for sympathy.

    Klemperer is far too stodgy, in my opinion. Overall I prefer the more recent HIP recordings - but Richter, as you suggest, is a good bet from a "traditional" perspective, although I marginally prefer Münchinger.
    To the contrary - and I’ve performed this piece a few times - the slower tempo creates a better contrast with the urgent exclamations so that they stand out more. If the whole thing is fast, those moments lose their full effect. Listen to Mengelberg or Furtwängler.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    To the contrary - and I’ve performed this piece a few times - the slower tempo creates a better contrast with the urgent exclamations so that they stand out more. If the whole thing is fast, those moments lose their full effect. Listen to Mengelberg or Furtwängler.
    I'd agree that taking the tempo too fast would spoil the effect of this chorus, but there's limits! Klemperer is practically unbearable here, and it all falls apart for me.

  3. #198
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reichstag aus LICHT View Post
    I'd agree that taking the tempo too fast would spoil the effect of this chorus, but there's limits! Klemperer is practically unbearable here, and it all falls apart for me.
    I agree on Klemperer, actually. As someone who rates Mengelberg, Furtwängler, and Jochum as my three favorite versions, it is surprisingly to me that so many swear by the Klemperer. It really is plodding and kinda boring. My prime recommendation to people is the Jochum. Beautiful but not plodding.

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    Does anyone know why Furtwangler's MTP is so cut?

    It's so long since I've given this music any attention -- years and years since I last heard all of it. That would be a good new year's resolution for me, to approach the MTP again.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jan-09-2019 at 11:46.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Just listening to McCreesh with only 8 singers. Not the only way but fascinating

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    Does anyone know why Furtwangler's MTP is so cut?
    The performance dates from a time when major cuts in large works were pretty common, a practice that is now thankfully much more rare.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    The performance dates from a time when major cuts in large works were pretty common, a practice that is now thankfully much more rare.
    Cuts possibly necessitated by some of the funereal speeds adopted in the past.

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  11. #203
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    Sorry about MTP for the St Matthew Passion by the way -- that was unintended. It reminds me of once when I abbreviated the Concertgebouw as CGB and someone who speaks Dutch told me that this was just ridiculous!

    Right, so people just made cuts in the mid 1950s like that. In fact I rather what he does with the music at the end, from Am Abend, da es kuhle war -- someone once told me that this is what was played at his funeral, I don't know if it's true or not.

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    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    I can appreciate different approaches to Bach, but my favorite version is Herreweghe's 1984 recording. In general I think the HIP movement has been pretty successful when it comes to Baroque music, and I tend to lean towards that approach though not exclusively.

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    to Brahmsianhorn -> (Mengelberg) - Yes, the Dutchman could sometimes have that EFFECT on a listener; the best of his recordings can be engrossing, and it would be somewhat difficult to argue that the Concertgebouw of his time was NOT at it's greatest, even w/o the benefit of Stereo, multi-channel microphones, etc. There are very good REASONS why the legacies of Mengelberg & Furtwangler … specifically in the SMP (and other repertoire, of course) … have stood the test of time.

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  15. #206
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    BTW, there was a widely-lauded (in High Fidelity, and/or Stereo Review) St. Matthew Passion, in the hands of Karl Richter/DGG … decades-ago. It included Irmgard Seefried, Dietrich F-D, plus the Munich musicians - does anyone know about it, or has anyone listened to it?

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    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 89Koechel View Post
    BTW, there was a widely-lauded (in High Fidelity, and/or Stereo Review) St. Matthew Passion, in the hands of Karl Richter/DGG … decades-ago. It included Irmgard Seefried, Dietrich F-D, plus the Munich musicians - does anyone know about it, or has anyone listened to it?
    Sure. It's been available almost continuously during the CD era, in several incarnations.

    It's a pretty commonly recommended recording, but I don't care for it. It has nothing to do with its lack of HIP-ness. I just don't hear much drama in Richter's conducting, and his soloists are pretty variable. The worst, unfortunately, is mezzo Hertha Töpper, and the mezzo has a lot of very important singing in the St. Matthew; her "Erbarme dich" leaves a big hole in the performance.

    Perversely, I actually prefer the recording Richter made in 1979, shortly before he died, for its stronger soloists, particularly Janet Baker, who has everything that Töpper lacks.
    Last edited by wkasimer; Jan-10-2019 at 03:16.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 89Koechel View Post
    BTW, there was a widely-lauded (in High Fidelity, and/or Stereo Review) St. Matthew Passion, in the hands of Karl Richter/DGG … decades-ago. It included Irmgard Seefried, Dietrich F-D, plus the Munich musicians - does anyone know about it, or has anyone listened to it?
    This was the version that introduced me to the St Matthew years ago. Richter is far more vital than in his later version (in which his speeds are slower and he also uses distracting harpsichord) and D F-D is in superb voice in the bass arias and Haeflinger as the evangelist. Heaflinger actually sings the tenor arias too and although the women are not so good they are adequate. I have it on CD but would advise a listen to the approach (which was the more vital of the old fashioned type of approaches) before purchase.

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    -> Bill Kasimer & DavidA - Thanks, and looks like there are two, very-DIFFERENT characterizations of what Richter achieved; i.e., Bill much-prefers the later Richter, and conversely, DavidA prefers the earlier one! It's a shame to hear that Ms. Topper was disappointing; from what I remember of her reputation, she usually rated high marks (although can't remember the sources of them). …. Thus, I suppose when we consider MODERN recordings, there's not a clear-cut favorite? … since WM and WF, of the oldest ones, deserve a place of their own?

  20. #210
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    Well, BTW, am a bit of a "newcomer" to this entire site - so, has there, in the past, been any discussions 'bout Bach's "St. John Passion"? It was a while (yeah, a LONG one, haha) ago, that I bought the old Seraphim set, with Karl Forster and the very-remarkable, but short-lived tenor - Fritz Wunderlich.

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