J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

St. Matthew Passion

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Wilhelm Furtwangler
Accompaniment/Orchestra:Wiener Philharmoniker
Soloists:Anton Dermota: evangelist, tenor
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau: Jesus
Elisabeth Grummer: soprano
Marga Hoffgen: contralto
Otto Edelmann: bass
Individual Works:Passion of Saint Matthew BWV 244
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:EMI
Catalog Number:7243 5 65509 2 6
Year Released/Recorded:1954
Total Playing Time:150' 40"
Comments:Austin Bennett Amonette said:

Effectively conveys Bach's Lutheran piety.

Loke Hoe Yeong said:

This are those type of performances which use modern instrument but with a 'period' style - not really HIP (not for Furtwangler!). The sound is not that 'big'. Somebody told me it sounded as if Bach would have wanted it. Take note of this. Also, a harpsichord is used. This embodies the principles of a great Bach performance - great conductor (conducted by Furtwangler in the last year of his life), great orchestra, great singers, and a great respect for the work - a cross between 'period' and modern which I mentioned above. However, a few warnings: this is a live performance in the 1950s; 16 numbers are ommitted here and some recitatives have been trimmed. Furtwangler left out 14, technical problems had 2 more removed. But this does not hinder my appreciation for the music and the interpreter.

Satoshi Akima said:

I am a huge admirer of this conductor and buy just about everything I can get my hands on. He is someone who can do no wrong in my eyes. However even I must confess that I wish I had never heard this performance. It lacks the visionary intensity I usually take for granted from this conductor. I am bitterly dissappointed. If you want to listen to an old world performance of this work then I recommend the Mengelberg who succeeds in making the approach communicate powerfully in spite of all the wonderful work by the finest of the historically informed musicians (and some painful cuts in the work).

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Austin Bennett Amonette
  • Loke Hoe Yeong
  • Satoshi Akima
Date First Submitted:05/04/1998