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Matthäus-Passion BWV 244
Conducted by Stephen Cleobury

V-2

Bach: St. Matthew Passion

 

Matthäus-Passion BWV 244

Stephen Cleobury

King's College Choir Cambridge & Choir of Jesus College Cambridge (Soprano in ripieno) / The Brandenburg Consort (Leader: Roy Goodman)

Tenor [Evangelist]: Rogers Covey-Crump; Bass [Jesus]: Michael George; Soprano: Emma Kirkby; Alto: Michael Chance; Tenor: Martyn Hill; Bass: David Thomas

Brilliant Classics / Regis

1994

3-CD / TT: 161:03

Brilliant Classics

 

DVD / TT: 162:02

Recorded & filmed at King's College Chapel, Cambridge, UK.
Buy this album at: Amazon.com | Amazon.com [Highlights] | Amazon.com [DVD] | Amazon.com [DVD]

Review SMP DVD

Kirk McElhearn wrote (April 14, 2002):
Bach's St Matthew Passion has often been called the greatest western musical work ever written. Don't expect this reviewer to disagree - it never fails to move me, and to delight me by its beautiful and often painful melodies. First performed on Good Friday 1727, it is Bach's most complex vocal works, calling for two choirs and two orchestras, and containing some of his most demanding arias. Performed often, since Felix Mendelssohn "rediscovered" it in 1829 (performing a partial version of the work), the St Matthew Passion was largely responsible for the Bach revival of the 19th century.

The work itself follows the text of the Passion according to St Matthew, in a series of choral movements, arias and recitatives. This is a long work - usually running around 2.30 to 3 hours, depending on the tempi chosen, which can be very tiring to perform, especially for the soloists, who are up against some difficult challenges in the arias.

The market is full of great recordings of the St Matthew Passion, from classics by Richter and Leonhardt, to more recent recordings, such as the second version recently released by both Herreweghe and Harnoncourt, as well as the recording by Suzuki, but filmed versions are few. This DVD shows the work being performed in the beautiful Kingšs College Chapel.

Evangelist Rogers Covey-Crump is not totally convincing - it is difficult to measure up to the benchmark of the magnificent Peter Schreier, who is undoubtedly the perfect voice for the part (or, at least, whose voice has become more or less identified with it). His diction sounds a bit unsteady, and his voice seems just a bit too laid back for this central part.

Alto Michael Chance has a fine voice, but uses a bit too much vibrato at times, which tends to distract from the melody calling attention to itself. Yet his vibrato is unequal - at times, it is intrusive, and other times (even within the same aria) it is subtle.

Curiously, Emma Kirkby, who does not often overuse vibrato, does so here. Her voice is wonderful, as usual, but one may question this vibrato which tends to stand out. However, in the heart-rending aria Erbame dich for soprano and violin obbligato, she is more restrained, and is truly magnificent. Yet, it is hard to compare her version to the near-perfect performance by René Jacobs on the Gustav Leonhardt recording of 1989, or Robin Blaze's crystalline performance on the Maasaki Suzuki recording. (Or even alto Michael Chance, present on this recording, who was acclaimed for his performance of this aria in the recent recording by John Eliot Gardiner.)

Regarding the sound of the recording, some comments must be made. The soloists are spread out across the space, which can be a bit disconcerting, especially when camera angles change. There is also something wrong with the balance. One hears the choir spread out across the soundscape at times, but the orchestra is leaning to the right, as is the choir at certain times. (This could be a problem with my listening to it in Dolby 2.0 format; Dolby 5.1 is also available, but I do not have the equipment to reproduce that type of sound. When choosing the 5.1 setting on my equipment, nothing changes.) There is also a very clear hiss at the beginning of each section, which is a bit annoying.

Unlike the CD recording of this work, the DVD suffers from sound problems that make it unacceptable. The unbalanced sound of the orchestra and choir is far too distracting for this to be enjoyable.

 

Kirk's review of the Cleobary Matthäus-Passion (DVD)

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (May 27, 2008):
Yesterday, after reading the remarks of the absent Tim concerning this recording (which I do not have; I chose the alternate Brilliant Classics in my packet of the four passions years ago), I noticed this. Now we all make errors. I am sure that Kirk did not mean "Erbarme dich" when referring to Ms. Kirkby. That is so unlikely. On René Jacobs, I guess, that is taste and not an error. I find his presence something that makes the otherwise exemplary Leonhardt unlistenbale for me.Here is part of what Kirk wrote:

Re: Kirk's review of the Cleobury Matthäus-Passion (DVD): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV244-Cleobury.htm

"Curiously, Emma Kirkby, who does not often overuse vibrato, does so here. Her voice is wonderful, as usual, but one may question this vibrato which tends to stand out. However, in the heart-rending aria Erbame dich for soprano and violin obbligato, she is more restrained, and is truly magnificent. Yet, it is hard to compare her version to the near-perfect performance by René Jacobs on the Gustav Leonhardt recording of 1989, or Robin Blaze's crystalline performance on the Maasaki Suzuki recording. (Or even alto Michael Chance, present on this recording, who was acclaimed for his performance of this aria in the recent recording by John Eliot Gardiner.)"

 

Matthäus-Passion BWV 244: Details
Recordings: 1900-1949 | 1950-1959 | 1960-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-2009 | 2010-2019 | Individual Movements
General Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 | BWV 244a | BWV 244b
Systemetic Discussions:
Part 1: Mvts. 1-8 | Part 2: Mvts. 9-20 | Part 3: Mvts. 21-29 | Part 4: Mvts. 30-40 | Part 5: Mvts. 41-50 | Part 6: Mvts. 51-57 | Part 7: Mvts. 58-63b | Part 8: Mvts. 63c-68 | Part 9: Role of the Evangelist
Individual Recordings:
BWV 244 - L. Bernstein | BWV 244 - F. Brüggen | BWV 244 - J. Butt | BWV 244 - R. Chailly | BWV 244 - S. Cleobury | BWV 244 - J. Daus | BWV 244 - D. Fasolis | BWV 244 - W. Furtwängler | BWV 244 - J.E. Gardiner | BWV 244 - W. Gönnenwein | BWV 244 - P. Goodwin | BWV 244 - E.z. Guttenberg | BWV 244 - N. Harnoncourt | BWV 244 - P. Herreweghe | BWV 244 - R. Jacques | BWV 244 - H.v. Karajan | BWV 244 - O. Klemperer | BWV 244 - T. Koopman | BWV 244 - S. Koussevitzky | BWV 244 - S. Kuijken | BWV 244 - F. Lehmann | BWV 244 - G. Leonhardt | BWV 244 - P.J. Leusink | BWV 244 - E.&R. Mauersberger | BWV 244 - H. Max | BWV 244 - P. McCreesh | BWV 244 - W. Mengelberg | BWV 244 - K. Münchinger | BWV 244 - R. Norrington | BWV 244 - G. Oberfrank | BWV 244 - S. Ozawa | BWV 244 - A. Parrott | BWV 244 - G. Ramin | BWV 244 - S. Rattlr | BWV 244 - K. Richter | BWV 244 - H. Rilling | BWV 244 - H.J. Rotzsch | BWV 244 - H. Scherchen | BWV 244 - G. Solti | BWV 244 - C. Spering | BWV 244 - M. Suzuki | BWV 244 - J.v. Veldhoven | BWV 244 - B. Walter | BWV 244 - F. Werner | BWV 244 - M. Wöldike
Articles:
Saint Matthew Passion, BWV 244 [T.N. Towe] | Two Easter St. Matthew Passions (Plus One) [U. Golomb] | St. Matthew Passion from Harnoncourt [D. Satz] | The Passion according to Saint Matthew BWV 244 [J. Rifkin] | The Relationship between BWV 244a (Trauermusik) and BWV 244b (SMP Frühfassung) [T. Braatz] | Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 - Early History (A Selective, Annotated Bibliography) [W. Hoffman] | Spiritual Sources of Bach's St. Matthew Passion [W. Hoffman] | Bach and the "Great Passion" [D.G. Lebut Jr.] | The Genesis of Bach's `Great Passion': 1724-29 [W. Hoffman] | Early Performances of Bach's SMP [T. Braatz]

Stephen Cleobury: Short Biography | King's College Choir Cambridge | Recordings | General Discussions | BWV 244 - Cleobury | BWV 245 - Cleobury

Recordings & Discussions of Other Vocal Works: Main Page | Motets BWV 225-231 | Mass in B minor BWV 232 | Missae Breves & Sanctus BWV 233-242 | Magnificat BWV 243 | Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 | Johannes-Passion BWV 245 | Lukas-Passion BWV 246 | Markus-Passion BWV 247 | Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 | Oster-Oratorium BWV 249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-523 | Quodlibet BWV 524 | Aria BWV 1127

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Last update: ũJune 13, 2008 ũ20:54:27