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  BIS -
  Bach: St. Matthew Passion (excerpts) - Suzuki
  Bach: St. Matthew Passion (excerpts)

Gerd Türk
Peter Kooij
Nancy Argenta
Robin Blaze
Makoto Sakurada
Chiyuki Urano
Bach Collegium Japan
Masaaki Suzuki (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Vocal
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 7 show all

Reviews: 2

Review by nickc March 24, 2005 (6 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
It's Good Friday here in Melbourne so what more appropriate task than to listen to and review this disc! BIS have set themselves the Augean task of selecting highlights from what is commonly considered (along with Beethoven's string quartets)by classical music lovers as the summit of Western Music - Bach's great Matthew Passion. The two other recordings I have (Harnoncourt/Teldec and Oberfrank/Naxos) take between 160 and 163 minutes for the complete work - firstly congratulations to BIS for fitting in 81.18 of music on one disc!
I suppose there could be two ways of approaching releasing a highlights disc: firstly provide a sense of the story by including some recitative or secondly just extract all the arias and play them in order. BIS has gone the first route and there are pluses and minuses of course. By my count there are about 20-25 minutes of recitative sprinkled through the disc and a good sense of the unfolding narrative is achieved.
Unfortunately that means we miss 7 of Bach's arias (if you are interested nos. 6, 13, 23, 35, 42, 57 and 65) - some of them some of Bach's greatest (though the greatest "Erbarme dich") is there. "Erbarme dich" brings me on to another point: Suzuki uses a counter-tenor for that aria and some of the others a soprano could take. His voice has an otherworldly quality that I like though others may feel differently.
The very opening chorus is slower than I'm used to and almost shudders to halt at a few points but after that tempi are not controversial. How would I characterise this performance? I would characterise it as somewhat light and small-scale (though not in a pejorative sense). For me Harnoncourt is more earthy and human, but who is to say which approach is correct - like all great works no one single approach can ever hope to convey all that is in the music.
The recording is generally excellent but at lower dynamic levels sometimes seems to recede a little bit. Voices sound fantastic though the choir is a little bit back from the rest. It is a good concert hall ambience but I much prefer the Channel Classics Christmas Oratorio recording.

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Review by lenw June 29, 2005 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
BIS provides this synopsis of this recording: Can one really present "the greatest work in the entire history of music" in a shortened version? In fact one can. And very successfully. Because Bach never intended the St. Matthew Passion to be "easy listening". He wasn't even interested in a string of hits which the work undeniably is. Bach wanted to help the parishioners of Leipzig to meditate on the passion and death of Our Lord Jesus Christ at the services on the afternoon of Good Friday. The work consists of a string of different scenes and the entire collection might be too much at one CD-sitting for even the most pious of music-lovers. Far better to pay serious attention to a selected number of passion scenes. These have been selected from the fêted recording by Masaaki Suzuki and his usual forces universally recognized as one of the great recordings of this work of modern times. And we are now able to offer this one-disc version in surround sound! A truly moving experience.

I found the individual solos on this SACD compelling, especially the soprano Nancy Argenta, while other professional reviewers - perhaps more sophisticated Bach aficionados found her performance lacking. I found the performance very enjoyably and emotional. The soundstage is very good although I found the miking a little forward emphasizing the solos perhaps at the expensive of the chorus. I will continue coming back to this wonderful and emotional recording.

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Works: 1  

Johann Sebastian Bach - Matthäuspassion, BWV 244 (St Matthew Passion)