Notes and Editorial Reviews
St. Matthew Passion
Wolfgang Seeliger, cond; Maria Zedelius (sop); Alison Browner (alt); Hans Peter Blochwitz (
); Wolfgang Schmidt (
); Anton Scharinger (
); Darmstadt CO & Concert Ch
CHRISTOPHORUS 141 (74:49
Text and Translation)
As music director of Hamburg’s five main churches from 1721 to 1767, Telemann composed a new passion every year, alternating the four Gospel accounts in a fixed rotation. Of these 46 passions, only 20 survive. The 1746
St. Matthew Passion
displays Telemann’s cosmopolitan compositional style. In a 1751 letter to composer Carl Heinrich Graun, he defended his composition of the recitatives in the French recitative style. French influence can also be seen in Telemann’s frequent use of arioso and accompanied recitative. German oratorio tradition is represented by the
choruses and the use of chorales, while the eight arias show Italian influences.
This reissue returns to the catalog a very good recording. Peter Blochwitz as the Evangelist and Anton Scharinger as Jesus are the best of the singers, though all are quite good; the least-strong element is Wolfgang Schmidt’s Peter, but it is good enough. I presume the excellent choir provides the uncredited singers of the minor roles in the recitatives. Wolfgang Seeliger conducts a reasonably paced performance. The orchestra performs on modern instruments, in case that matters to you.
There is one other available recording of the 1746 Passion, available on both Hänssler and Brilliant. It provides a clear alternative in using a period-instrument orchestra. The soloists are approximately equal in their accomplishments, although I would give the preference to Christophorus by a small margin. Christophorus gains an advantage in price because of Hänssler’s inexplicable decision to spread to two discs a performance that would have fit comfortably on one. Even considering Brilliant’s budget price, Christophorus’s single-disc mid-price issue is less expensive. But in two instances of presentation, Hänssler can claim a superiority over Christophorus. Christophorus divides the work into 11 tracks with access points that most CD players cannot access. On Hänssler, the work is divided into 52 tracks. The translation of the libretto in Hänssler’s booklet is also vastly superior to that of Christophorus.
One cannot go wrong with either of these recordings. I am glad to have both, but if forced to choose, I would prefer this recording on Christophorus.
FANFARE: Ron Salemi
Works on This Recording
St. Matthew Passion (1746), TV 5 no 31 by Georg Philipp Telemann
Hans-Peter Blochwitz (Tenor),
Alison Browner (Mezzo Soprano),
Anton Scharinger (Bass),
Wolfgang Schmidt (Tenor),
Maria Zedelius (Soprano)
Darmstadt Chamber Orchestra
Written: 1746; Germany
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