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Customer Reviews

Bach St. Matthew Passion

Sir David Willocks leads the Bach Choir, a host of renowned oratorio specialist soloists and the Thames Chamber Orchestra in a deeply felt English-language reading of J. S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion. Because of the decision to perform the piece in English, rather than the original German, this reading may appeal primarily to American and British listeners who prefer textural understanding to the composer's original language (with it's more natural division of notes between vowels and consonents), but this is a very fine interpretation none the less. There have been relatively few St. Matthew Passions offered on records in English. This reading offers a real sense of Baroque style and uses a fairly small choral ensemble, in acknowledgement of "original performance" conventions, but the drama of Christ's passion and death emerges in all its musical power. In the 1960s Leonard Bernstein issued a condensed version of the St. Matthew Passion for Columbia records, a reading available again today on a SONY/Columbia CD. This performance was mocked by the critics at the time, who as one prefered either the massive (and for me overwrought and mushy) Otto Klemperer recording or the very stylish Nicholas Harnoncourt performance, which followed what were then seen as "authentic" styles (and was far better than the same conductor's more recent remake, which is perverse in many details of tempo). But Bernstein created a true performance of searing intensity and an almost inevitable flow and force. His overtly romantic interpretation made of the St. Matthew Passion a quasi-Baroque opera and I strongly recommend seeking it out, not only for another English view of the work, but also as a statement that "original performance style" need not always govern musical enjoyment. That said Willocks and company offer a superb interpretation that is strongly recommended if you can accept Bach in English.

Mrs. Barrs

I indeed prefer the English version. I respect the fact that Bach was a Germanic composer, but I cannot fully appreciate the pieces done in German as I am American.
Therefore, to me, the words sung in English are very beautiful. I am most inspired due to the fact that I can understand the lyrics. I also believe the English version would very much be well received by English and Americans and I highly recommend it!!! It's simply spectacular.


Formed: 1876 in London, England

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

The Bach Choir is one of the oldest and most respected amateur choirs in the world. In the 19th century, several choral groups were founded in London, of which the Handel Society (1882-1939), the Royal Choral Society (founded 1871), and the Bach Choir were the longest lived. In 1875, A.D. Coleridge organized a large choir to participate in the British premiere of Johann Sebastian Bach's Mass in B minor under the direction of Otto Goldschmidt. The performance, held in 1876 at St. James' Hall, was...
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Bach: St. Matthew Passion, Bach Choir
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  • $29.99
  • Genres: Classical, Music
  • Released: Jan 01, 1979

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