Magazine article Gramophone

JS Bach: St Matthew Passion

Magazine article Gramophone

JS Bach: St Matthew Passion

Article excerpt

JS Bach

St Matthew Passion, BWV244 (1727 version) Charles Daniels ten Evangelist Peter Harvey bass Christus Bethany Seymour, Helen Neeves sops Sally Bruce-Payne, Nancy Cole mezs Joseph Cornwell, Julian Podger tens Matthew Brook bass York Bach Choir; Yorkshire Baroque Soloists / Peter Seymour Signum (M) (2)SIGCD385 (154' * DDD * T/t)

The St Matthew Passion was probably first performed in 1727 but the music we usually hear is from Bach's revised score, prepared afresh for a revival in 1736 (and used again in 1742). The original 1727 score is lost but traces of it are evident in manuscript copies made by Johann Christoph Farlau (pupil of Bach's son-in-law Altnickol) and Agricola. Most variants are minuscule details but there are some obvious differences: the end of Part 1 has a simple chorale ('Jesus lass ich nicht von mir') instead of the extended chorus that later replaced it ('O Mensch, bewein dein Stinde gross'); at the beginning of Part 2 'Ach, nun ist mein Jesus hin' features bass solo voice instead of alto; the obbligato instrument in 'Komm, susses Kreuz' is not the usual viola da gamba but an archlute (one of the few times Bach used a lute in his Leipzig church music).

In contrast to Richard Egarr's preference for large-scale forces, Peter Seymour adopts the Rifkin/Parrott theory that Bach's concerted church music was probably sung by 'concertists' and 'ripienists'. The baker's dozen of singers are led by Charles Daniels's serene Evangelist, whose poetic wisdom illustrates the description of Peter's weeping with unusual bitterness. …

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