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Bach: St Matthew Passion / Klemperer, Pears, Ludwig, Et Al

Release Date: 04/10/2001 
Label:  Emi Great Recordings Of The Century Catalog #: 67542   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Dietrich Fischer-DieskauOtakar KrausSir Geraint EvansHelen Watts,   ... 
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia OrchestraPhilharmonia ChorusHampstead Parish Church Boys' Choir
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 3 Hours 44 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This may not be the most authentic of Bach performances but EMI have quite rightly included it in their 'Great Recordings of the Century' series. The 1962 recording has come brilliantly to life, with great impact and abundant atmosphere, while the orchestral playing, with the Philharmonia on top form, is of the highest possible quality.

The nature of the experience is apparent from the first bar, as Klemperer's magisterial slow tempo sets in for the opening chorus. Too slow, one might be tempted to think, but the concentration is such that doubts recede as the vision takes hold. The chorales too are particularly broad, and occasionally they do seem mannered, although the textures, beautifully separated by the clear recording,
Read more are always full of interest. The contributions of the Hampstead Boys Choir are distinguished and add an extra finesse to all the numbers in which they participate.

Then there are the soloists, and if one seeks a reason to invest in this performance, it surely lies here. They are magnificent, both individually and as a team. The role of Evangelist particularly suits Peter Pears, for his voice is strongly characterised and seems just right for the role, while he is superbly complemented by Fischer-Dieskau, a great Bach singer, as Christ. The other roles are less central, but the artists are the leading singers of the day, and it shows.

Klemperer holds the whole performance under his magisterial spell, and as a result the concentration and the vision build stage by stage, making the experience thoroughly compelling. Of course the latest scholarship and performance practice calls his concept into question, but doubters should listen beyond the appearance offered by the opening bars and experience what this truly is: one of the great recordings of the century. Bach remains the most indestructible of composers, and there are different ways of performing his music. The tradition represented by Klemperer has much to tell us about this music.

-- Terry Barfoot, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

Saint Matthew Passion, BWV 244 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone), Otakar Kraus (Baritone), Sir Geraint Evans (Baritone),
Helen Watts (Alto), Wilfred Brown (Tenor), John Carol Case (Baritone),
Walter Berry (Bass), Nicolai Gedda (Tenor), Christa Ludwig (Alto),
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Soprano), Peter Pears (Tenor)
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Philharmonia Chorus,  Hampstead Parish Church Boys' Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: Circa 1727; Leipzig, Germany 
Date of Recording: 1960-61 
Venue:  Kingsway Hall, London, England 
Length: 223 Minutes 58 Secs. 

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