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Bach: St Matthew Passion / Müller-brühl, Cologne Co, Et Al


Release Date: 03/21/2006 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8557617   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Raimund NolteMarianne Beate KiellandNico Van der MeelLocky Chung,   ... 
Conductor:  Helmut Müller-Brühl
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Chamber OrchestraDresden Chamber ChoirCologne Cathedral Boys Choir
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 41 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a very good St. Matthew Passion, with especially solid chorus and orchestral work and excellent sound. Of course, in a work such as this--approaching three hours of music and dependent on the cohesiveness of dozens of sections (arias, recits, and choruses) while maintaining dramatic focus--there are likely to be two or three or more variables that a given listener will find less than ideal. Here, for me, it's the soloists--the Evangelist in particular, whose sharp-edged tenor often becomes unpleasantly piercing, which is unfortunate considering how often he sings. Soprano Claudia Couwenbergh also has her weak moments, mostly insecurity at the upper register, but she has nice moments as well, as in the famous "Blute nur, du Read more liebes Herz", which is confidently, sensitively sung. Alto Marianne Beate Kielland has a rich tone you easily could mistake for a countertenor, and along with tenor Markus Schäfer and bass Hanno Müller-Brachmann offers the most technically assured, intrepretively engaging solo singing. That said, collectively the soloists never attain the level of drama and characterization achieved by their counterparts on the Herreweghe or Klemperer recordings.

And speaking of Klemperer, I've always been partial to his monumental performance, which uniquely captures the gravity and power of the story, creating a sense of occasion like no other version--although I'll also keep Herreweghe's two indispensable recordings right alongside. Here, Müller-Brühl follows the current fashion for swifter tempos and really flies through the opening chorus--and although it's well-sung, the dance-like treatment belies the mood and message of the text and thus misses the point of Bach's masterfully drawn scene, full of anticipation and emotional turmoil.

Beyond this important moment, Müller-Brühl's tempos are apt, the overall tone vibrant, the pacing and flow sensible and engaging as in any of the better performances on disc. As mentioned, the choral work is outstanding--listen to the dynamic expression in Nos. 27a and 27b, for instance--and the orchestra and continuo are first rate. While my first choices for this work remain unchanged, I'd still suggest this newcomer for anyone who wants a very reliable and often exciting budget-priced alternative. Be aware, however, that the full libretto is available only by visiting the Naxos website.

--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1. Saint Matthew Passion, BWV 244 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Raimund Nolte (Bass Baritone), Marianne Beate Kielland (Alto), Nico Van der Meel (Tenor),
Locky Chung (Bass), Claudia Couwenbergh (Soprano), Markus Schäfer (Tenor),
Hanno Müller-Brachmann (Bass)
Conductor:  Helmut Müller-Brühl
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Chamber Orchestra,  Dresden Chamber Choir,  Cologne Cathedral Boys Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: Circa 1727; Leipzig, Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/2005 
Venue:  Sendesaal, Deutschland Radio, Cologne 
Length: 161 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Language: German 

Sound Samples

St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 1. Chorus: Kommt, ihr Tochter, helft mir klagen (Chorus, Soprano in ripieno)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 2. Recitative: Da Jesus diese Rede vollendet hatte (Evangelist, Jesus)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 3. Chorale: Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 4. Recitative and Chorus: Da versammleten sich die Hohenpriester (Evangelist, Chorus, Jesus)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 5. Recitative: Du lieber Heiland du (Alto)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 6. Aria: Buss und Reu (Alto)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 7. Recitative: Da ging hin der Zwolfen einer (Evangelist, Judas)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 8. Aria : Blute nur, du liebes Herz (Soprano)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 9. Recitative and Chorus: Aber am ersten Tage der sussen Brot (Evangelist, Chorus, Jesus)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 10. Chorale: Ich bin's, ich sollte bussen
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 11. Recitative: Er antwortete und sprach (Evangelist, Jesus, Judas)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 12. Recitative: Wiewohl mein Herz in Tranen schwimmt (Soprano)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 13. Aria: Ich will dir mein Herze schenken (Soprano)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 14. Recitative: Und da sie den Lobgesang gesprochen hatten (Evangelist, Jesus)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 15. Chorale: Erkenne mich, mein Huter
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 16. Recitative: Petrus aber antwortete (Evangelist, Jesus, Petrus)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 17. Chorale: Ich will hier bei dir stehen
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 18. Recitative: Da kam Jesus mit ihnen zu einem Hofe (Evangelist, Jesus)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 19. Recitative and Chorale: O Schmerz, hier zittert das gequalte Herz (Tenor)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 20. Aria and Chorus: Ich will bei meinem Jesu wachen (Tenor, Chorus)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 21. Recitative: Und ging hin ein wenig (Evangelist, Jesus)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 22. Recitative: Der Heiland fallt vor seinem Vater nieder (Bass)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 23. Aria: Gerne will ich mich bequemen (Bass)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 24. Recitative: Und er kam zu seinen Jungern (Evangelist, Jesus)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 25. Chorale: Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 26. Recitative: Und er kam und fand sie aber schlafend (Evangelist, Jesus, Judas)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 27. Aria and Chorus: So ist mein Jesus nun gefangen (Duet Alto, Soprano, Chorus)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 28. Recitative: Und siehe, einer aus denen (Evangelist, Jesus)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part I: No. 29. Chorale: O Mensch, bewein dein Sunde gross
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part II: No. 30. Aria and Chorus: Ach! Nun ist mein Jesus hin (Alto, Chorus)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part II: No. 31. Recitative: Die aber Jesum gegriffen hatten (Evangelist)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part II: No. 32. Chorale: Mir hat die Welt truglich gericht'
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part II: No. 33. Recitative: Und wiewohl viel falsche Zeugen herzutraten (Evangelist, Testis, Pontifex)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part II: No. 34. Recitative: Mein Jesus schweigt zu falschen Lugen stille (Tenor)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part II: No. 35. Aria: Geduld! Geduld! (Tenor)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part II: No. 36. Recitative and Chorus: Und der Hohepriester antwortete (Evangelist, Jesus, Pontifex)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part II: No. 37. Chorale: Wer hat dich so geschlagen
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part II: No. 38. Recitative and Chorus: Petrus aber sass draussen im Palast (Evangelist, Petrus, Ancilla, Chorus)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part II: No. 39. Aria: Erbarme dich (Alto)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part II: No. 40. Chorale: Bin ich gleich von dir gewichen
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part II: No. 41. Recitative and Chorus: Des Morgens aber hielten alle Hohepriester (Evangelist, Judas, Chorus)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part II: No. 42. Aria: Gebt mir meinen Jesum wieder (Bass)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part II: No. 43. Recitative: Sie hielten aber einen Rat (Evangelist, Pilatus, Jesus)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part II: No. 44. Chorale: Befiehl du deine Wege
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part II: No. 45. Recitative and Chorus: Auf das Fest aber hatte der Landpfleger (Evangelist, Pilatus, Uxor Pilati, Chorus)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part II: No. 46. Chorale: Wie wunderbarlich ist doch diese Strafe
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part II: No. 47. Recitative: Der Landpfleger sagte (Evangelist, Pilatus)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part II: No. 48. Recitative: Er hat uns allen wohlgetan (Soprano)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part II: No. 49. Aria: Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben (Soprano)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part II: No. 50. Recitative and Chorus: Sie schrieen aber noch mehr (Evangelist, Chorus, Pilatus)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part II: No. 51. Recitative: Erbarm es Gott (Alto)
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Part II: No. 52. Aria: Konnen Tranen meiner Wangen (alto)

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