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Musica Sacra - Bach: St. Matthew Passion / Cleobury

Release Date: 11/10/2009 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 93941   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Emma KirkbyMichael ChanceRogers Covey-CrumpMichael George
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brandenburg ConsortCambridge King's College Choir
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion? This is not a marriage I would have imagined had a future among the more distinguished reference recordings of the work. But it does. Stephen Cleobury’s masterful management of the many musical details and structural/temporal/ensemble balance challenges is impressive, while the sound of his period-instrument orchestra—the acclaimed Brandenburg Consort—is warmly vibrant and always complementary to the voices, whether chorus or solo singers.

And happily, Cleobury is blessed with a lineup of soloists that in 1994, when this recording was made, was a dream, especially countertenor Michael Chance, at the top of his technical form and vocal beauty. Some listeners
Read more may not fully warm to Emma Kirkby’s pointed and poignant soprano, or to bass Michael George’s huge-voiced Jesus (me included), nor will some observers appreciate the somewhat odd-perspective in which the soloists are placed relative to the choir and orchestra—but in the grand scheme of things—and Bach’s St. Matthew is nothing if not a grand scheme(!)—this is terrific singing, playing, and conducting of one of the great and enduring masterpieces.

The sound is a bit of a muddle in the big choral tuttis—thanks to the obstinate acoustics of King’s—but most everything else is just fine. The chorales are marvelously sung, models for how this sort of thing should be done. Bravo to all concerned. Anglicans really can sing Lutheran music!

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

Saint Matthew Passion, BWV 244 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Emma Kirkby (Soprano), Michael Chance (Countertenor), Rogers Covey-Crump (Tenor),
Michael George (Bass)
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brandenburg Consort,  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: Circa 1727; Leipzig, Germany 

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