J.S. Bach’s “great” passion was like nothing the city of Leipzig had seen before: composed on a vast scale with two choirs
and a doubled orchestra, its large canvas and dramatic nature was a great contrast to the simple chanted passions of the previous decade. Tradition dictated that the ‘musical Passion’ was performed during the vesper service on the afternoon of Good Friday, and Bach’s setting from St Matthew’s Gospel followed his own St John Passion from two years earlier as well as an impressive legacy of Passion settings written by previous cantors. The year of its premiere cannot be established with complete certainty: while 1729 was the accepted date for many years, it is now widely thought that the work must have been first performed in the Thomaskirche in 1727. The Leipzig‐based poet known as Picander was responsible for dividing the words of the Gospel into 15 “acts” based on the progress of events, and rounded off each set with a meditation. One might easily believe at first sight that the focus is on the original biblical text, but Bach’s musical setting shifts the centre of gravity towards the poet’s insertions in which the daughter of Zion, Mary and the faithful soul add a contemplative aspect. Bach sets these texts in a variety of forms, not only through the use of recitative and aria movements (borrowed from the operatic world), but also through the extensive use of chorales (with which the congregation may have joined in) as well as polyphonic choruses sung by the choir. This historic recording marks the artistic peak of two choral legends of the past century: Rudolf Mauersberger, who was director of the Dresden Kreuzchor, and his brother Erhard, the fourteenth Kantor of the Thomanerchor of Leipzig since the great composer himself, who occupied the same role. Here they join forces with renowned soloists, including the highly esteemed tenor Peter Schreier in the role of Evangelist, to perform Bach’s masterpiece. Following its initial release in 1975, Gramophone reviewed the recording favorably: “… the excellence of soloists, choir and obbligato instrumentalists (a superb gamba and oboe da caccia) and, above all, the profound understanding shown by the conductor, make this a most moving interpretation.”
The reissue of a glorious recording of Bach’s sacred masterwork, the St. Matthew Passion!
This performance from the 70ties brings together two of the most esteemed choirs of Germany: the Thomanerchor Leipzig and the Dresdner Kreuzchor, both with traditions going back to the times of the great Cantor Johann Sebastian. The Leipzig Gewandhausorchester and the choirs are conducted by the two brothers Mauersberger, Rudolf and Erhard, both famous for their deep understanding of the Baroque musical language. An excellent line up of soloists: Peter Schreier, Theo Adam, Hermann Christian Polter, Hans Joachim Rotsch.
“Deeply moving”, the Gramophone wrote of this performance at the time of release, indeed a set to treasure as the testimony of a deeply felthistorical tradition of Bach performance.
Full sung texts are available on www.brilliantclassics.com.
Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244: No. 1, Chorus. “Kommt, ihr Töchter, helft mir klagen”
Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244: No. 2, Recitative. “Da Jesus diese Rede vollendet hatte” (Evangelist, Jesus)
Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244: No. 3 Chorale. “Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen” (Chorus)
Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244: No. 4 Recitative. “Da versammleten sich die Hohenpriester” (Evangelist) – “Ja nicht auf das Fest” (Chorus) – “Da nun Jesus war zu Bethanien” (Evangelist) – “Wozu dienet dieser Unrat?” (Chorus) – “Da das Jesus merkete” (Evangelist, Jesus)
Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244: No. 9 Recitative. “Aber am ersten Tage der süßen Brot” (Evangelist) – “Wo willst du, daß wir dir bereiten” (Chorus) – “Er sprach” (Evangelist, Jesus) – “Und sie wurden sehr betrübt” (Evangelist) – “Herr, bin ich’s?” (Chorus)
Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244: No. 10 Chorale. “Ich bin’s, ich sollte büßen” (Chorus)
Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244: No. 36 Recitative. “Und der Hohepriester antwortete und sprach zu ihm” (Evangelist, Caiaphas, Jesus) – “Er ist des Todes schuldig!” (Chorus) – “Da speieten sie aus” (Evangelist) – “Weissage uns, Christe” (Chorus)
Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244: No. 37 Chorale . “Wer hat dich so geschlagen” (Chorus)
Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244: No. 38 Recitative. “Petrus aber saß draußen im Palast” (Evangelist, Maidens I & II, Petrus) – “Wahrlich, du bist auch einer von denen” (Chorus) – “Da hub er an, sich zu verfluchen” (Evangelist, Petrus)
Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244: No. 40 Chorale. “Bin ich gleich von dir gewichen” (Chorus)
Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244: No .41 Recitative. “Des Morgens aber hielten alle Hohepriester” (Evangelist, Judas) – “Was gehet uns das an?” (Chorus) – “Und er warf die Silberlinge in den Tempel” (Evangelist, Priests I & II)
Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244: No. 58 Recitative. “Und da sie an die Stätte kamen” (Evangelist) – “Der du den Tempel Gottes zerbricht” (Chorus) – “Desgleichen auch die Hohenpriester” (Evangelist) – “Andern hat er geholfen” (Chorus) – “Desgleichen schmäheten ihn auch die Mörder” (Evangelist)
Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244: No. 60 Aria with Chorus. “Sehet, Jesus hat die Hand” (Alto, Chorus)
Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244: No. 61 Recitative. “Und von der sechsten Stunde an” (Evangelist, Jesus) – “Der rufet dem Elias!” (Chorus) – “Und bald lief einer unter ihnen” (Evangelist) – “Halt! laß sehen” (Chorus) – “Aber Jesus schriee abermal laut” (Evangelist)
Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244: No. 62 Chorale. “Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden” (Chorus)
Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244: No. 63 Recitative. “Und siehe da, der Vorhang im Tempel zerriß” (Evangelist) – “Wahrlich, dieser ist Gottes Sohn gewesen” (Chorus) – “Und es waren viel Weiber da” (Evangelist)
Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244: No. 64 Recitative. “Am Abend, da es kühle war” (Bass)