J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

St. Matthew Passion (Live recording)

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Karl Richter
Accompaniment/Orchestra:Munich Bach Orchestra
Soloists:Ursula Buckel, Soprano
Marga Höffgen, Alto
Ernst Haefliger, Tenor
Keith Engen, Bass (Jesus)
Peter Van Der Bilt, Bass
Individual Works:St. Matthew Passion BWV 244
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Archiv (Japan)
Catalog Number:POCA-3001/3
Year Released/Recorded:1969
Total Playing Time:3 hr. 18 min.
Comments:Michael Siegel said:

Live recording from Tokyo in 1969. Only available from Japan.

Michael Siegel said:

After listening to this recording many times, I have become aware of how important it is to hear Richter's interpretation of the Passions in LIVE performances. It is a thing of amazement the way Richter keeps the piece moving in the transitions between recitativ, aria, chorale, etc by using his imporvisational skills at the harpsichord. It really just gives the piece twice as much energy and momentum. I can picture how Richter must have had to jump up and down from keyboard to baton in order to keep it all together in concert; it must have been a treat to watch in person. Because studio recordings are recorded one track at a time, Richter is not given the opportunity to imporovise such transitional material. Once you've heard Richter's live concert, the studio recordings begin to sound just a slight bit piecemeal (through no fault of Richter's; this is true of ALL studio recordings). This is why I strongly recomend buying this live CD from HMV.co.jp .

Note that Richter does improvise the harpsichord continuo on the 1978 Archiv studio recording, but recording one track at a time has its limitations on what Richter can do BETWEEN tracks, both as a harpsichordist and conductor. This is a subtle point which could easily go unnoticed if one doesn't pay it specific attention. However, such attention is greatly rewarded when listening to KR's mastery of live performance.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Michael Siegel
Date First Submitted:11/11/2001