J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

St. Matthew Passion

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Accompaniment/Orchestra:Concentus Musicus Wien
Soloists:P. Esswood
T. Sutcliffe
J. Bowman
K. Equiluz
Nigel Rogers
K. Ridderbusch
M. van Egmond, M. Schopper
Individual Works: Passio Domini nostri J.C. secundum Evangelistam Matthaeum
Record Label:Teldec
Catalog Number:2292-42509-2
Year Released/Recorded:1970
Total Playing Time:174'27"
Comments:Mr. Fang-lin Hou said:

An earnest approach to "authentic" Bach. All-male choir plus all-male soloists. A wonderful alternative for those who prefer freshness to confection in this masterpiece of Bach.

Leonardo Christian said:

The recording of Harnoncourt must be the first on period instruments and therefore there must have been like a revolution in 1970: just listen to the huge Richter-like readings existing at that time and compare with a recording like this one , which has a very reduced orchestra ( 12 violins in the whole recording) and chorus. Harnoncourt must have been a pioneer in some "authentic" features of interpretation, such as a certain !rithmic approach (e.g. the choruses which frame the work), "crescendos" in long notes and some textures that he obtain from the instruments. But don't be deceived: it is an old-fashioned interpretation and I think it is the worst on period instruments.
For example, he does not obtain a good quality from the woodwind: e.g. the flutes are a complete disaster because of the vibrato;they simply don't know how to play the oboe da caccia. The general conception of the arias is that they lack brilliance and may sound a little boring.The chorus lacks uniformity and the alto P. Eswood is a huge disaster (also the vibrato! listen to Michael Chance with gardiner!). Three points help you to get this 3 CD box: Harnoncourt fulfills completely the double-chorus plan: he does use 2 choirs with their own groups of soloists and a really stereophonic sound, a think that is not followed by others;the use of male altos and boy sopranos; and the price (32$)

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Mr. Fang-lin Hou
  • Leonardo Christian
Date First Submitted:11/29/1995