Systematic Discussions of Bach’s Other Vocal Works
Johannes-Passion BWV 245 - Part 1: Mvts. 1-7
Discussions in the Week of August 8, 2004
Neil Halliday wrote (August 14, 2004):
SJP: Opening Chorus
I have heard the following recordings:
Richter, Münchinger, Jochum, Rilling, Koopman (tape of a live recording), and Herreweghe (amazon.com sample of the ritornello only).
The interesting thing about this group of recordings is that apart from Richter (who is slowest at 11.10) and Rilling (who is fastest at 8.38), the rest of them all adopt virtually the same speed at around 10.15.
Indeed this speed (about 10.15) seems to result in the most effective combination of solemnity and power, in this movement.
Jochum and Herreweghe both have striking ritornellos, with good balance between all the instrumental forces - basses; cellos and bassoons; upper strings; and oboes and flutes. But the vast Netherlands Radio Choir, with Jochum, at its initial entry, is too loud, and unable to present the choral lines clearly; whereas I presume Herreweghe's choral forces are exemplary in this regard.
Koopman's recording has loads of character, and features the 'wailing' oboes; the main drawback is the sudden drop in dynamics at the choral entries, and elsewhere (probably resulting from an unnecessary search for 'expression' by Koopman). Otherwise his choir has the necessary clarity of line, making audible the striking fugal choral writing, where it occurs in the score.
Münchinger's orchestra has been recorded at too soft a level - the ritornello is not naturally striking and powerful, as is the case with all the other recordings. And the Stuttgarter Hymnus-Chorknaben sounds sounds large and 'muddy', in this recording.
Rilling presents a vigorous performance that loses some solemnity because of the speed, but the clarity in all the parts is exemplary.
Richter once again reveals his ability to maintain clarity and balance with large vocal and instrumental forces; eg, you can follow the 'sighing' viola part even when the choir is in full flight. But after hearing the other recordings, I feel this performance can sound somewhat laboured, or lacking some of the dynamism inherent in the score. Nevertheless it's a great recording to follow with a score in order to hear the interaction of all the vocal and instrumental lines.
Stevan Vasiljevic wrote (August 16, 2004):
BWV 245 - SJP
Two new articles about SJP are now available on BCW:
Links to them are also available at pages:
Enjoy reading them.
Johannes-Passion BWV 245: Details
Recordings: Until 1960 | 1961-1970 | 1971-1980 | 1981-1990 | 1991-2000 | From 2001 | Sung in English | Individual Movements
General Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
Systematic Discussions: Part 1: Mvts. 1-7 | Part 2: Mvts. 6-14 | Part 3: Mvts. 15-20 | Part 4: Mvts. 21-26 | Part 5: Mvts. 27-32 | Part 6: Mvts. 36-40 | Part 7: Summary
Individual Recordings: BWV 245 - Brüggen | BWV 245 - Cleobury | BWV 245 – Dombrecht | BWV 245 - Fasolis | BWV 245 - Gardiner | BWV 245 - Harnoncourt-Gillesberger | BWV 245 – Herreweghe | BWV 245 - Higginbottom | BWV 245 – Jochum | BWV 245 – Leusink | BWV 245 - McCreesh | BWV 245 - Neumann | BWV 245 - Parrott | BWV 245 - Richter | BWV 245 – Schreier | BWV 245 – Shaw | BWV 245 - Suzuki
Articles: Saint John Passion, BWV 245 (by Teri Noel Towe) | Article: The Passion of Saint John, BWV 245 [by Michael Steinberg] | St. John Passion [by Audrey Wong & Norm Proctor]