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St Matthew Passion - Bach
 
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2:03
Disc 2
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3:05
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5:59
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2:46
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11:13
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5:28
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1:09
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1:01
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2:02
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1:23
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7:22
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1:58
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2:50
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1:24
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1:20
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4:45
Disc 3
30
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2:40
30
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1:25
30
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9:40
30
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1:14
30
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3:16
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1:09
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0:43
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6:38
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4:24
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0:17
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1:36
30
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4:38
30
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2:52
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2:20
30
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3:04
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2:36
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10:20
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3:22
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2:20
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8:02

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 6 Mar 1989
  • Release Date: 6 Mar 1989
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • Copyright: (C) 1989 EMI Records Ltd.
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 3:42:59
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001J68B8C
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 40,525 in MP3 Albums (See Top 100 in MP3 Albums)

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 Sep 2000
Format: Audio CD
I find the so-called authentic approach, such as that of Gardiner, to a work like the Matthaus-Passion especially damaging: the music tinkles by tritely and yet with too much merely technical self-consciousness. In such recordings the scripture of the text goes meaninglessly for nothing, and the music does not transcend itself. With the soaring vastness of a cathedral, and so slow it seems endlessly to be coming to an end, Klemperer's classic recording is as far from showy newfangledness as could be, and here at last the words and music are allowed to strike home with meaning and feeling. This is not only, alongside the likes of Solti's Ring and Furtwangler's Tristan, a record of inspired music-making, but also, by dint of being theologically informed and spiritually illuminated, a religious experience. Despite the scale and speed of the reading the Philharmonia sound has no heavy, big-band richness, but is pure and stark, with an almost sour edge on it, so there is no loss of clean bite and clarity in the counterpoint, which Klemperer gets airborne with an intense rising weight and momentum. The soloists happen to be some of the finest singers of the time - Fischer-Dieskau's Christ a voice out of Eternity, Pear's castrato speech-song Evangelist, Schwarzkopf and Ludwig like mourning Magdelenes - but more importantly they and the Choir project the words with meaning and feeling in good German diction, and sound haunted or harrowed, doomed amd damned, or full of martyrs' faith, as needed. The orchestral tone is likewise raw-nerved with pain, or incandescent with faith and hope, and it is the grief, guilt, and suffering of the Passion that comes across, with near-unbearable tragic, then redemptive, grandeur - suffering in every moment transfigured into transcendent beauty, which gestures not merely to the mystery of Bach's Passion music, but to the Mystery of the Passion itself.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By William Burn VINE VOICE on 10 Mar 2008
Format: Audio CD
I was once in a pub and overheard a conversation between two elderly chaps, who were praising the virtues of the organ in the church next door (where I had just spent a rather hungover couple of hours rather wishing it would play a little quieter), and they both agreed that "it plays Bach wonderfully". This gave me pause for thought: the instrument is indeed well suited in tone and colour to the energy and counterpoint of Bach's fugues, but surely they have missed the point - it is the player who plays Bach well, not the instrument. Perhaps the same could be said of this version. The singers are, as the other reviewer remarks, the finest of their generation, but Klemperer ultimately uses them in such a fashion as to make the experience of listening to this an exercise more in endurance, rather than a moving spiritual journey.

I have awarded the disc 3 stars, and each of them is well and truly deserved. The most prominent role is of course that of the Evangelist, sung by Peter Pears, who restricts himself to telling the story without too many histrionics or drawing too much attention to himself (it is hard, though, to agree with the other reviewer, who describes Pears as "castrato" - if anything, that term could apply to Bostridge on the more recent recording by Herreweghe. Pears sings with a full tone throughout, and very impressive it is too.) Moreover, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's Christus is a revelation: it is common practice nowadays for Christus to be dark and massive-toned, but the writing itself suggests a baritone, rather than a bass, should sing the role (there are too many top E's for a low bass to be really comfortable.) The result is that Dieskau introduces a calmly reflective quality to the character that is most welcome.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dr Konrad Schneckenhauer on 17 Dec 2013
Format: MP3 Download
This fifty year old recording has so much to admire and so much which exasperates. Its qualities sometimes flip over into being its defects. In judging it here, I am not interested in whether it lives up to the ideals of modern 'historically informed' performances. I am interested in judging it as effective music-making in its own right, and whether it presents the drama and emotion of Bach's magnificent achievement in a manner that is interesting and convincing.

Klemperer made this recording before the modern tendency towards increasing speeds led to a mania for dashing which too often trivialises and undermines the music. Trivialising the music is precisely what Klemperer does not do. His slow speeds allow the music to breathe, and allow everything that is in the music to be revealed. He takes the whole thing extremely seriously, and this is a virtue, because the St Matthew Passion is a deeply serious work, not something to be skipped and danced through. Sometimes, however, this virtue is taken too far, and whilst in general Klemperer maintains, even at slow speeds, a definite forward-moving momentum, there are certain things about the performance which are impossibly ponderous. Ponderous not because of slowness, but because of a failure of momentum, or because of stodgy articulation. Especially painful are the sleepy continuo bass and plodding harpsichord. The final chorus of Part 1 must have been recorded on a bad day, because everyone seems to be heavily sedated, directionless, uncertain: it sags terribly.

Where things are not hopelessly ponderous, Klemperer is magnificent. The opening and final choruses have all the grandeur and seriousness inherent in the music, fully realised.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 24 reviews
53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
My personal favorite... 10 Jun 2000
By Guy Cutting - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
As my other reviews indicate, Bach's St. Matthew Passion is an accomplishment which cannot be overstated, and is an essential component of any CD collection. But having said that, this recording of the work conducted by Otto von Klemperer is not a good choice for first exposure to the St. Matthew Passion. Why? Well, the approach taken is definitely not one of drama. The emphasis here is on contemplation, and even worship in a way. The main reflections of this spirit are: 1. slow tempi and 2. subtlety of emotional inflection. This recording tips the scales at close to 4 hours - more than an hour longer than most recordings. The opening chorus is twich as long as on most other recordings, as are the chorales. The advantage of this approach, in my mind, is that it gives the music time to unfold, gives the listener a chance to keep pace. The disadvantage is that even to the experienced listener the music can seem to lack a sense of movement (which it doesn't, I assure you - it just firmly maintains its own unique sense of movement, one which has evidently gone out of style). As to the subtletly of inflection, I think that appraoch is essential to this music, which should be an introspective and devotional experience. Another interpretational decision is the use of modern instruments - I much prefer the richness of sound. I personally happen to think that the reasoning behind the "authentic" movement is fallacious... but that's only my opinion. Your choice of which recording to buy will undoubtedly depend on your opinion as it relates to the instrumental approach, so remember that this one does not use period instruments. The choir is large, which adds a sense of power to the music. The soloists are all of high quality. Highly recommended...
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Not JUST a performance 28 April 2003
By William Supon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
OK--this is more than just a performance of Bach's Matthäus-Passion. It is a religious experience, as it should be. Like Albert Schweitzer's Bach organ works(does anybody know THEM any more?), Klemperer's Bach is a personal record of one great man's probing, meditatiive thoughts on one of the greatest works of Western music. It is outside of such considerations as "authentic performance practice" and "authentic instruments." With a set of singers far beyond anything that could be assembled today--Heather Harper as Pilate's Wife; Geraint Evans as a priest, Walter Berry as Peter. . .
These are, of course, in addition to Pears, Schwarzkopf, Ludwig, and Fisher-Dieskau as the "big" soloists!
Listen to the final chorus. It is slow, searing, powerful. Compare it to the more "authentic" versions--which all sound like "OK--let's throw Jesus in the grave and get it over with."
Give Otto a try. Shut off the telephone. Turn off the lights. LISTEN! You will weep at the supreme tragedy of Western Man.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Moving and Powerful, yet Difficult Recording 23 Mar 1999
By Erik Stadnik - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This recording of the St. Matthew Passion captures all the feeling and emotion present in the Biblical passages upon which it is based. It is an excellent recording to use for study due to its extremely slow tempo. The tempo, however, unfortunately makes it rather tedious if you do not love the piece before listening to this recording. The final chorus, "Wir setzen uns," is magnificently done, as is the opening chorus. The soloists are superb, and Klemperer certainly knows how to make one wait for a chord to resolve. All in all, it's simply amazing.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
It's life, not music 1 Aug 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The real test of greatness, both in content and in performance is the effect of repeated hearing--especially repeated hearing without focused concentration. After a while, both the art and the artistry of a recording like this make themselves felt in an undeniable way. Most important of all, the effect of Bach's St. Matthew Passion is to immerse the listener in the feelings and philosophies of an event that forms the foundation of western culture. If you think that's an overstatement, put this in your car cd and leave it there for a week. It's amazing what treating classics of art like drive-time distraction can do for your perspective. I found it particularly helpful to alternate a few days of the St. Matthew with a few days of the B-Minor Mass. The contrast was striking and highlighted the intensely dramatic and at the same time personal aspect of the Passion. And this performance delivers over and over again. While the initial impression of the opening bars is somewhat ponderous compared to other performances (e.g. Harnoncourt), the intensity and passion of the playing and singing is amazingly consistent throughout. These people really believe in this music. One can only bow in admiration.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Not authentic, but certainly a heartfelt expression of faith 21 Feb 1999
By 103677.2344@compuserve.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Klemperer may not please the "authentic baroque" purists, but he brings a power dimension to Bach lacking in many "authentic" performances. The two choruses "kommt ihr Tochter" and "Sind Blitze sind Donner" both work very well with Klemperer's power style. More importanti, it is an expression of faith throughout, like the recitative "O Schmerz" where he gets Jesus trembling in the Garden of Gethsemane, as well as the chorale "Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden" (possibly a reflection on Klemperer's brush with death 2 years before that). If you want an exercise in authentic baroque, this may not be for you, but if you want an expression of faith, you would be hard pressed to beat this.
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