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  • Bach: Matthaus Passion (Ton Koopman) [DVD] [2006]
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Bach: Matthaus Passion (Ton Koopman) [DVD] [2006]

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Product details

  • Format: Classical, Colour, DVD-Video, Import, PAL
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: German, English, French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Challenge Classics
  • DVD Release Date: 5 Jun. 2006
  • Run Time: 162 minutes
  • ASIN: B000EBGF18
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 100,833 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


CC 72233; CHALLENGE CLASSICS - Olanda; Classica vocale Sacra Oratori

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
A solid performance in the spirit it was meant to 24 May 2006
By Michael Nathanson - Published on
Verified Purchase
Coming out on the heel of the Richter DVD, this outstanding performance gives the listener a sense of how the Passion might have sounded at St. Thomas church at Bach's time. Koopman is an austere artist whose interpretations of Bach's music, sacred and profane are steeped in the brisk rythms of the baroque dance mucic so the Richterian lingering over stanzas and the heavy footing cannot be found here.The accompanying of the soloists by the various musical instruments is just a conversation with the soloists where instruments and vocalists exchange ideas and feelings. The playing is superb, technically and idiomatically, and if there were a need for convincing the uninitiated that "original instruments' is the way to go then this performance has succeeded in making the point.

The vocal soloists on the whole are very good with Klaus Mertens (Bass) rendering a stellar performance. Highly recommended.
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
My top choice 30 July 2009
By Shami Ghosh - Published on
Of the two extant Bach passions, the Matthew is probably more famous and popular than the John, a popularity it has enjoyed since Mendelssohn first revived it in the middle of the nineteenth century. It has to stand not only as one of Bach's greatest works, but also, I would say, as one of the highest points of European cultural achievement. Whether or not you're Christian (or even religious), listening to this will make you feel religious about music, if nothing else, and it certainly brings out the profundity and pure human feeling (and the narrative tension and drama) of the gospel text. Needless to say, there are a huge number of recordings; this review is concerned with both the DVD and CD of Koopman's performance in March 2005.

For my taste, Koopman is the best of the greats of Bach choral conducting; his tempi are suitably brisk, but do not attain the (for me) sometimes disturbingly fleet tempi of Gardiner and Herreweghe. In this performance, the tempi are sometimes a bit faster than in his earlier recording. Overall, I would prefer this one, primarily because of the choice of performers: Joerg Duermueller and Ekkehard Abele are better in their roles (Duermueller has to be one of the best evangelists I've heard), and Cornelia Samuelis gives a performance that is far more historically sensitive and appropriate for the religious nature of this music than Barbara Schlick in Koopman's earlier version; her performance of 'Aus Liebe', and the duet with Bogna Bartosz ('So ist mein Jesus nun gefangen') are among the highlights of this recording. Here, there's a female singer (Bogna Bartosz) for the alto parts, where earlier Koopman used a countertenor (Kai Wessel); they're both excellent, as are both singers who do the bass arias and solo parts. I have to say that I prefer Christoph Prégardien in the earlier recording to Paul Agnew's sometimes overstated and excessively dramatic renderings in this one. I'd go with the new version mainly for the better evangelist and soprano, and a somewhat better Jesus.

Comparing Koopman to other conductors, of the historically-informed-performance crowd, the big names seem to be Herreweghe Bach; St. Matthew Passion - Herreweghe (3-cd Box) La Chapelle Royale, Paris and Gardiner Bach: St. Matthew Passion / Rolfe Johnson, Bonney, von Otter, Chance, Crook; Gardiner; Gardiner, both of whom are, for my taste, occasionally a bit too brisk for the Matthew. I have a further beef with Gardiner that people who don't know German might not notice: some of his singers (Anthony Rolfe Johnson included) have a German pronunciation that does not sound quite right to me, as a person who has spent a long time studying German literature. Gardiner's approach works a lot better, for my taste, in the John, and for that, I find it's really hard to choose between him and Koopman. In general, I don't listen much to the older performances on modern instruments, but I have to say that Peter Schreier (sadly apparently no longer available) and Helmuth Rilling Bach: St. Matthew Passion both deserve a mention as outstanding performances (of which I prefer Schreier); Klemperer's passion is one that has clearly survived the horrors of WWII, and while it's an outstanding artistic document of it's own time, it does not, for me, quite represent what I feel Bach's music should.

I should note that, having followed some of the scholarly debate between Rifkin, Parrott and Koopman on whether one voice per part or a larger choir is more appropriate for this work, I am convinced that Bach's own practice was (at least sometimes) more likely to have been one voice per part than the modern big choir. That being said, they key to a recording is whether or not it works: if the singers doing each voice don't really hold up, then a OVPP recording won't match one with a full choir; this is the reason why I prefer the Koopman to McCreesh's recording Bach: St Matthew Passion (Matthäus-Passion) (though in all fairness, I should say I've only heard clips of the latter), since, although the clarity and general impression of OVPP does sound great in the choral pieces, I find myself getting a bit put off by the style of too many of McCreesh's singers in the solos. And though McCreesh's instrumental forces are excellent, like Koopman's, his tempi are occasionally a little slow (I know, I'm very picky!). Also, the size of the choir really makes much more of a difference in a live concert--and the placement of singers (Bach's singers would generally have been up in the galleries, with the organist, and actually behind most of the congregation) is also a major factor; since I tend to listen to music on my headphones, the effects are slightly lost for me.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Saw clips on utube and HAD to buy it 4 Dec. 2012
By J M MOORE - Published on
Verified Purchase
The soprano is just wonderful. As indeed are all of the singers.
The setting is right - how could the St Mathew passion not be performed in a church? The baroque orchestra is complete with contemporaneous instruments.
Plus, of course, SUBTITLES for those of us not fluent in German.
Oh, and did I mention, the soprano is just wonderful
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Maybe the best with caveats 15 Nov. 2010
By Robert Baksa - Published on
Verified Purchase
Having admired Koopman's organ and harpsichord recordings I was fully prepared to love this Matthew Passion. But there are several things which work against giving it a full recommendation. Koopman's head and torso bobbing reminds me of one of those drinking bird toys. Every few moments his mouth flies open and he makes a grand gesture but rarely does it reflect something in the music. So it becomes more and more annoying to watch him conduct. His alto and evangelist and the bass who sings Jesus are fine. Mertens, who handles the small bass roles and the arias, is reliable if not distinguished. For me his soprano is too hooty but is acceptable. But the tenor solos, some of my favorite parts of the work, given to Paul Agnew who massacres them. This kind of performer makes one wonder "How does this man have a career as a singer?" He relies a good deal on a straight hooty sound. When he allows a bit of vibrato is proves to be a strange flutter which is very unpleasant to hear. The other liabilty, which might be an engineering fault, is that in the magnificent opening chorus the children's choral tune does not cut through. I have sung in the chorus of this great work and have been so moved by the entrance of the children's chorus that I could no longer sing. Sadly, I don't get that in this performance. Given every aspect of the performances that are available this DVD may be the best but it has serious shortcomings.
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Superb performance 23 Mar. 2008
By Allan Mahnke - Published on
Verified Purchase
This is superb performance. The extra conversation included is also enlightening. Make certain to read C. Wolff's excellent notes on the passion.
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