J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

St. Matthew Passion

Main Performer
or Conductor:
John Eliot Gardiner
Accompaniment/Orchestra:English Baroque Soloists & The Monteverdi Choir
Soloists:Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Evangelist (tenor)
Andreas Schmidt, Jesus (bass)
Barbara Bonney, Pilate's Wife (soprano)
Ann Monoyios (soprano)
Anne Sofie von Otter (alto)
Michael Chance (countertenor)
Howard Crook, Second witness (tenor)
Olaf Baer Pilate & High Priest I (baritone)
Cornelius Hauptman, Judas & Pontifex (bass)
Individual Works:St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Archiv Produktion
Catalog Number:427 648-2
Year Released/Recorded:1989
Total Playing Time:3 CDs 1:57:24
Comments:David Irving said:

Gardiner's St. Matthew Passion represents the pinnacle of his Bach recordings and now clearly makes first choice for any serious CD collector. The English Baroque Soloists, on period instruments accompany the resplendent Monteverdi Choir and the magnificent soloists (with Michael Chance outstanding among the male singers and Anne Sofie von Otter among the females). Rolfe Johnson as the evangelist makes the recitatives compelling and lively, treating them in a variety of ways, so that the listener can relate more closely to the Passion story. Gardiner too interprets each chorale differently so that the listener cannot dismiss merely as "hymns".

The choruses are superb, especially the opening "Come, ye daughters". Instead of using all boy soloists for the chorale tune in this chorus, Gardiner also uses a teenage female choir, which, using no vibrato, is totally in context with the rest of the recording. The singers' German is perfect.
This recording, although it has the price disadvantage of coming on three full-price CDs, is a clear first choice for the discerning Bach fan. Gardiner's best recording yet.

Nico Mandersloot said:

Very good recording, good soloists, good orchestra a perfect harmony between soloists and orchestra!!

Ron Thomsen said:

So-so. I question the premise of most "authentic" performers who consider Bach primarily a baroque composer. Most great composers transcend their own time periods. Bach does much better with a power conductor, especially with the "sind blize sind Donner" chorus (which is tailor-made for somebody like Klemperer.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Brad Leissa
  • David Irving
  • Nico Mandersloot
  • Ron Thomsen
Date First Submitted:11/30/1997