J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Mattheus Passion

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Paul Goodwin
Accompaniment/Orchestra:Choir and Orchestra
Soloists:Paul Goodwin (conductor)
Rufus M³ller, (tenor - Evangelist)
Richard Jackson (baritone - Jesus)
Nancy Agenta (soprano)
Lynda Lee (mezzo-soprano)
Jonathan Peter Kenny (counter-tenor)
Jamie MacDougall (tenor)
Stephen Varcoe (baritone)
Individual Works:Matthõuspassion, BWV 244
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Cala Records
Catalog Number:CACD 89301
Year Released/Recorded:1995
Total Playing Time:CD 1 - 73'58; CD 2 - 77'08
Comments:Oliver Kurz said:

The recording is a staged version of Bachs St. Matthews Passion in cooperation with Jonathan Miller for BBC TV and United Records performed on period instruments without boys' choir. I like this recording, because the choir and orchestra are great and for the most parts the soloists too. They take the music light-footed, well phrased and with dramatic verve. There is only one exception: In my opinion, Jamie MacDougall (tenor aria) got the wrong part: he is more 'Siegfried'-like, too heroical and mannered. Petrus and the 'Hohepriester' struggle with the German pronouncing, but this is incidental. The sound is good, you can even hear the soloists moving on the stage and Bach's 'experiment' with stereo sound using two choirs succeeded in the recording.

I bought this CD at a Drugstore in Braunschweig, Germany. The CD was issued as part of a 'Brilliant Classics' selection but does not name nor the orchestra neither the choir, but the conducter and director, so there is no doubt. I highly recommend this 2 CD-Set at the low price of one CD.

Stuart Arlott said:

This production was firstly televised before being released on CD. As I recall it was televised aptly at Eastertide. The first thing that struck me is that oh so familiar saying, "Bach is for the ear and not the eye". Jonathan Miller's attempt at arguably Bach's masterpiece was a very good one. M³ller's portrayal of the Evangelist was superb. He seemed to fully understand the sincerity of the passion. Clearly shown in all of the recitative he sang. Nancy Agenta gave also a good performance, especially the aria "Ich will Dir mein Herz schenken". A nice, light, crisp sound with plenty of warmth. The counter-tenor Peter Kenny's interpretation was warming and emotional "Erbarme Dich", if somewhat strained in certain arias,"Ach Golgatha". It was evident that most of the additional soloists were not native German speakers. This was warming, particularly the Gentleman who sung the part of "Petrus". Stephen Varcoe widely known for his performances with Eliot Gardiner, gave an excellent solo in "Mache Dich mein Herze rein" and "Gibt mir mein Jesum wieder". The latter aria is a particularly difficult one to sing, and Varcoe showed off his flair for Bach by giving a truly magnificent performance.

Goodwin's overall tempo of the piece seemed very fast. It didn't however, give the impression that he was rushing. Towards the end of part I, he took the chorus "Sind Blitze, sind Donner", at a truly appropriate lightening pace. It was impressive indeed, especiall in the basses.

For those who like authentic productions this is the one. I would give it **** rating.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Oliver Kurz
  • Stuart Arlott
Date First Submitted:09/02/1998