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Matthäus-Passion BWV 244
Conducted by Serge Koussevitzky

V-3

J.S. Bach: The Passion According to St. Matthew

Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 - sung in English

Serge Koussevitzky

Harvard Glee Club & Radcliffe Choral Society (Chorus Master: George Wallace Woodworth) / Boston Symphony Orchestra

Tenor [Evangelist]: John Priebe; Bass [Jesus]: Frederick Lechner; Soprano: Jeannette Vreeland; Contralto: Kathryn Meisle; Bass [Arias]: Keith Faulkner
Ernst Victor Wolff (Harpsichord) [steel-framed instrument by Maendler-Schramm]; Carl Weinrich (Organ)

RCA Victor
Rockport Records RR5012/4

Mar 26, 1937 (Good Friday)

3-CD / TT: 192:32

Recorded live at Symphony Hall, Boston, MA, USA.
See: Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 - conducted by Serge Koussevitzky
Buy this album at:
Rockport 3-CD: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de

Class as to text and notes Koussevitzsky MP

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (September 13, 2006):
My Berkshire packet (all Bach for a change) arrived today. I have not of course listened to any of it yet. However the "packaging" of the Koussevitzky MP has class of a type we don't see much today. It includes the entire sung English text in this complete performance from 1937. That is amazing.

It also includes a fine short essay by Tully Potter about the connexion of Jewish musicians with the MP from Mendelssohn through Koussevitzky and many of the players in this recording.

Amongst other comments:
"Within a few years, a leading church musician in Bach's own adopted city, Leipzig, would record the St. Matthew's Passion in an abridged version purged of all mention of the Jewish race. Another celebrated choral conductor, this time from Berlin, would record a similarly Nazified version of Mozart's Requiem".

It goes on. I would guess by Aryeh's discography that the Leipzig Bach conductor referenced is
(5)
J.S. Bach: Matthäuspassion
Günther Ramin
Thomanerchor Leipzig / Members of the Gewandhauschor and Gewandhausorchester Leipzig
Tenor [Evangelist, Arias]: Karl Erb; Baritone [Jesus]: Gerhard Hüsch; Soprano: Tiana Lemnitz; Contralto: Friedel Beckmann; Bass [Arias]: Siegfried Schulze
Calig / EMI Historical / Preiser
Mar 1941
2-CD / TT: 130:33
===========
Who the Mozart conductor was I don't have any idea. One does not often see such outspoken expression of part of our heritage, our common European Classical Music Heritage. These notes together with the entire English text make this a superb presentation and let us recall that the work is complete (Potter makes note of Furtwängler and others years later still mangling the work).

Three cheers,

Bradley Lehman wrote (September 13, 2006):
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< My Berkshire packet (all Bach for a change) arrived today. I have not of course listened to any of it yet. However the "packaging" of the Koussevitzky MP has class of a type we don't see much today. It includes the entire sung English text in this complete performance from 1937. That is amazing. >
I haven't heard that performance yet, but want to sometime. Saw it there in Berkshire's catalog....

Do you happen to know if that's the same English translation that Bernstein would use later, whole or in part?

Total coincidence: last night I was up late reading a Koussevitzky appreciative essay, connected with some of his other recordings being released on CD in 1990. Not the MP, but lots of other stuff. This essay was by Peter Rabinowitz, in the May-June 1990 issue of American Record Guide, pp 155-158.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (September 14, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Do you happen to know if that's the same English translation that Bernstein would use later, whole or in part? >
All that the notes say is that each of the performers arrived knowing a different English translation and that RCA had to prepare a libretto to be issued with the recording to reflect what was actually being sung.

I know that with the Ferrier English recording I have never had a libretto with either my LPs or my Dutton CD incarnation and that such actually sung translations being included is a rare phenomenon.

I would rather doubt that Bernstein's sui generis recording used any pre-existing libretto. I get the Koussevitzksy-Bernstein connexion but obviously while Kossevitzky was a Jew in background only for the most part, Bernstein obviously made a strong attempt at "purifying" the work in a direction quite opposite from the Nazified recording.

OK, the result is a bowdlerization of a work whole architecture should not be altered in my view. I found Peter Bloomendahl's article here on Bernstein's very illuminating except for the one variable not taken into account (as I recall), to wit Bernstein's seemingly unwarranted total messing around with the textually "innocuous" Messiah of Handel.

At all events I have just listened to the 1952 Furtwängler fragment. Back to the Koussevizky: at $5.99 you can't go wrong and the libretto is even printed with mercy toward presbyopia.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (September 14, 2006):
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< I would rather doubt that Bernstein's sui generis recording used any pre-existing libretto. >
Wrong. Bernstein's used the translation of Rev. Dr. Troutbeck.

Tom Hens wrote (September 14, 2006):
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< I would rather doubt that Bernstein's sui generis recording used any pre-existing libretto. I get the Koussevitzksy-Bernstein connexion but obviously while Kossevitzky was a Jew in background only for the most part,
Bernstein obviously made a strong attempt at "purifying" the work in a direction quite opposite from the Nazified recording.
OK, the result is a bowdlerization of a work whole architecture should not be altered in my view. >
Just out of curiosity: if Bernstein hadn't made cuts, just how long would his version have become, approximately? When his recording was mentioned on the list a while back, I did a very rough calculation based on the reported lengths of some of the movements he did include, and came to the conclusion that his tempi would have turned the SMP into a monstrosity of somewhere between four and five hours long. Was I far off? I've always assumed the practice of making extensive cuts to the SMP, by people like Mengelberg and Bernstein, wasn't due to any attempt at ideologically inspired "purifying", but just at reducing the work to a manageable length with their generally glacial tempi. (I've been told that in the Concertgebouw during Mengelberg's performances, one could actually hear his many cuts, not from the performers but from the audience -- there were so many people who followed along with pocket scores that one could hear the rustling of pages as people skipped the missing parts.)

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 14, 2006):
Tom Hens wrote:
< I've always assumed the practice of making extensive cuts to the SMP, by people like Mengelberg and Bernstein, wasn't due to any attempt at ideologically inspired "purifying", but just at reducing the work to a manageable length with their generally glacial tempi. >
It was only ten years ago that I heard my first complete performance of the SMP. Cuts to the work are all but traditional -- I had heard "Komm Süsser Kreuz" before my first period instruments performance. The practice of inttroducing a half hour to hour-long interval has made things easier for modern audiences.

But concert longuers are nothing to a Wagnerian like myself. In a week's time, I;m off to the new Toronto Ring Cycle with all four operas in five days. Just remember to go the washroom before "Das Rheingold" ... It's three hours without a break and there's a LOT of running water!

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (September 15, 2006):
Tom Hens wrote:
< Just out of curiosity: if Bernstein hadn't made cuts, just how long would his version have become, approximately? When his recording was mentioned on the list a while back, I did a very rough calculation based on the reported lengths of some of the movements he did include, and came to the conclusion that his tempi would have turned the SMP into a monstrosity of somewhere between four and five hours long. Was I far off? >
Do I understand that you have not heard the recording and did your calculations based on reports?
I never attempted to undertake such a calculation but OTOH one could readily calculate this on the basis of taking the recorded parts and their timings and creating timings for the other parts based on the actually performed parts and come up with a decent estimate.

OTOH one might also assume that IF he were doing the work uncut, he would conceive the pace of the whole in a different manner. I do not off hand know what percentage of the music he included and what percentage he deleted. I know that, in spite of my general abhorrence of cutting the MP as was customary at one time, I found Bernstein's reading very moving and effective.

< I've always assumed the practice of making extensive cuts to the SMP, by people like Mengelberg and Bernstein, wasn't due to any attempt at ideologically inspired "purifying", but just at reducing the work to a manageable length with their generally glacial tempi. >
Please read Peter Bloomendaal's article in the Archives under Bernstein SMP. I cannot access the URL right now. According to this fascinating article Bernstein had a definite agenda. However such an agenda seems more appropriate to the JP (BWV 245) than to the MP to me personally. I am never troubled by the MP.

Now as to Mengelberg, he abhorred opera fanatically and tried to preclude it from the musical life of the Netherlands. So he deletes all the gorgeous bass and alto arias. Many others did likewise. Let's face it, MP can be one of the greatest of all dramatic musical works (opera-oids, oratorios, and so forth).

< (I've been told that in the Concertgebouw during Mengelberg's performances, one could actually *hear* his many cuts, not from the performers but from the audience -- there were so many people who followed along with pocket scores that one could hear the rustling of pages as people skipped the missing parts.) >
Ah, I have gotten quite used to doing that with many recordings both of this work and of operas in historical recordings that are similarly cut.

Bradley Lehman wrote (September 15, 2006):
Tom Hens wrote:
< Just out of curiosity: if Bernstein hadn't made cuts, just how long would his version have become, approximately? When his recording was mentioned on the list a while back, I did a very rough calculation based on the reported lengths of some of the movements he did include, and came to the conclusion that his tempi would have turned the SMP into a monstrosity of somewhere between four and five hours long. Was I far off? >
A friend of mine sang the Pilate role in Bernstein's concert series of MP performances, leading up to the recording. Do you want me to ask him what the normal in-concert length was? (If he still remembers; it was obviously many years ago!)

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (September 15, 2006):
[To Bradley Lehman] Bernstein performed this work in concert with the same cuts precisely as he laid it down on recording.

Your friend's take would be interesting of course but it probably would not be very different.

Back to the Furt remnant performances (1950 and 1952), as I noted the other day, large timing differences in certain sections to which I paid attention and these performances were two years apart only. I don't have his 1954 and can't compare them and really don't care to very much. I guess a given conductor will time differently even two years apart.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (September 15, 2006):
Peter Bloemendaal on Bernstein's

http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV244-Bernstein.htm
scroll down to "Bloemendaal" with the FIND function of your browser. Agree or not, it's an important piece that Peter supplied up with. I only wish that someone here would tell us who the BERLIN conductor was who Nazified WAM's Requiem. Obviously the erudite persons here have amongst their number one who easily knows. One should not have to go to e.g. the Moderated Classical Music List to seek such fascinating information.

Perhaps said conductor added (as if a mass) "credo in unum ductorem, pater tedescus" or "noli dare pacem Iudaeis? Amazing,

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 - conducted by Leonard Bernstein

Tom Hens wrote (September 20, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote, regarding the tempi of Bernstein's SMP recording (and Yoel Arbeitman also asked me a question on the same topic):
< A friend of mine sang the Pilate role in Bernstein's concert series of MP performances, leading up to the recording. Do you want me to ask him what the normal in-concert length was? (If he still remembers; it was obviously many years ago!) >
That wouldn't answer my question, since those concert performances no doubt had the same or similar extensive cuts.

My guess that Bernstein's habit of making such cuts wasn't related to the contents of the text of the SMP, and any supposed intention to remove anti-semitic content from it, was based on the following practical consideration: when this subject came up somewhere else entirely a while back (as a completely off-topic result of thread drift there), I compared the lengths of the six SMP recordings I have, all of them HIP, the oldest one being Harnoncourt's first version. They came in at an average of about 2 hours 45 minutes (I don't have the exact numbers anymore), with very little variance. Based on earlier comments on this list about Bernstein's recording, he took some sections at about 1.5 to 2 times slower than what is now considered 'standard' (sorry, once again, I don't have references anymore, the wording is mine). So to know how long a complete SMP at Bernstein's tempi would have been, one would have to compare the timings of the sections he did record, and attempt an extrapolation. As a rough guess, I came up with something like four to five hours -- impracticable for a concert performance.

 

Koussevitzky SMP

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (September 16, 2006):
I have just been able to listen to the c. 80mins of part I of this amazing recorded single take live performance.

This is a conductor who (although he had little if any experience with Bach) knew what it was all about.

This is truly a wonderful performance.

Not only does the conductor perform the long work with BOTH continuity and variation (something which Furtwänlger seems to me not to do; rather keeping a steady and boring beat ongoing) but he simply shows a feel for the work.

And, were that not enough, this live performance of Good Friday, 1937 included a fine harpsichordist, an organist Carl Weinreich, and a gambist..

Complete, uncut, with harpsichord and gamba.
The tenor/evangelist has both lovely tone and the clearest imaginable diction.
The Jesus is dramatic.
No soloist is unworthy and the alto is very good indeed.
I did listen the other day to the long "Erbarme dich". Couldn't help myself..

After listening to so many mangled and chopped historical recordings, both in and from Germany and in English, of late, this is really one of the most pleasure giving ones I have come across.

Richard Burginis here the first violinist.
Recently I uploaded to Operashare and Yahoo Mahler an air-check of Burgin conducting

Mahler's The Song of the Earth (Das Lied von der Erde) sung in English by
Hans-Joachim Heinz (t),
Jennie Tourel (ms),
BSO, Richard Burgin (cond).
Dec.4, 1943.
AM radiocast.

That too was in English and that too included recently arrived in America soloists.
More later.

It is packaged really nicely, as noted earlier and the sonics are first rate for the time.
Bravo,

Charlie Ervin McCarn wrote (September 20, 2006):
The keyboard players in the Koussevitzky SMP

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< And, were that not enough, this live performance of Good Friday, 1937 included a fine harpsichordist, an organist Carl Weinreich, and a gambist. >
The harpsichordist was Ernst Victor Wolff, who played a steel-framed instrument by Maendler-Schramm. The organist was Carl Weinrich (not Weinreich), who made some important early recordings of Bach organ works on an early attempt at a reconstruction of a "period organ," the "Praetorius organ" at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (September 21, 2006):
[To Charlie Ervin McCarn] Thank you very much for the information. The misspelling of the organist's name is consistent in the notes. Worse than that the notes say that he had a long career at Princeton University. Having attended a lot of concerts at both P.U and at Westminster Choir College I am certainly aware of the difference.

But if he was not at P.U., it is a natural error when persons read "Princeton", they think of the university and not of the Borough or the Township (a very meaningful distinction to the locals and Westminster is on the border of the Borough and the Township).

That the harpsichordist played a Maendler is so noted without -Schramm or the details you provide.

Also the soprano's name is spelled in the notes now as Freeland and now as Vreeland. Only the later is correct to my knowledge. She also sang in the renowned several live recordings (Pearl and Andante are different days) of Stokowski's Gurrelieder.

 

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]

Serge Koussevitzky: Short Biography | Boston Symphony Orchestra | Recordings of Vocal Works | Recordings of Instrumental Works
Individual Recordings:
BWV 244 - S. Koussevitzky
Arrangements/Transcriptions:
Works | Recordings

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: żNovember 6, 2010 ż18:50:05