Customer Review

18 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars bach in slow motion, 22 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Bach: St.Matthew Passion (Audio CD)
having admired some of klemperer's recordings (his fidelio is stellar!) i was tempted by this st matthew passion, but after hearing it it seems - at least in my opinion - that the 'good old days' weren't always so good. over the last 30 years our ears have been retrained into period practices for this kind of music, and klemperer's approach just will not do. this is not bach but it is brahms and wagner disguised as bach ...

the tempi are so slow that i found it partly annoying (for instance a drawn out 'mache dich mein herze rein', not even walter berry's suave singing can save the day as the orchestra just drags on and on and on). i did not see any spirituality in it and it did not move me. the chorus is huge and bombastic which renders the chorales unbearably heavy. obviously the orchestra plays very well but not in a style appropriate to the music - at least not to my ears...

the singers are a mixed lot too - elisabeth schwarzkopf was in late career mode, which means that all she did was art but little of it was pure singing, sometimes it seems as if she is meowing her way through the music (don't get me wrong, she possessed a magnificent voice and up to the mid 50's her recordings are often great but after that point she overdid the artistry and became too mannered). bach needs heartfelt simplicity and no artistic overkill. christa ludwig is magnificent but she could have been even better in a better surrounding. ditto walter berry. fischer-diskau is fischer-diskau but his jesus is definately a man of statue...

to sum it up ... this st matthew passion is an experience, but certainly one i don't want to experience again. for me bach needs to be crisp as to convery a spiritual mission, but klemperer's 'vision' is too sticky for my taste. i know that i will probably divide opinion on this, but after all this is my view. i am not saying that this version is bad, it is just not a version i would recommend listening to more than once...
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 Apr 2010 12:46:42 BDT
Hugh Sheehan says:
Yes you do divide opinion. Over the years I have listened to this recording with joy and I can fully recommend it. You are,alas, wrong and I recommend that you revisit it with an open heart and an open mind. To all considering the purchase of this glorious performance by, with Krips, the greatest classical conductor of the 60s and 70s, don't be put off by a view that has the potential to rob you of the greatest recordings of Bach ever made.

Posted on 20 Jun 2011 21:54:24 BDT
Drori-fridom: It would be very helpful if you could train yourself to use CAPITAL letters when writing names, when starting a sentence (that is, after a full stop).
As for your opinion - it is just that, no more no less. Regards E. Schwarzkopf: this recording was made in 1962, by no means was she in late career mode at that time. That she already started to develop some "mannerism" - that is true, but the singing style and the singing voice is very much in evidence.
I believe that this recording is one of the milestones. I believe that only few would accept your views of this recording.

Posted on 26 Oct 2011 16:04:02 BDT
B. P. Virgo says:
I so agree Drori: having heard people speak rapturously of the St Matthew Passion I got the Klemperer version having treasured his Die Zauberflote for years and having seen positive reviews, but I found it turgid. I have tried again and again but it is so heavy. I have just listened to some of McCreesh's attempt and it is like another piece of music. I might actually delete my Klemperer from my computers, sell the CD and buy the McCreesh or maybe the Gardiner. (Gardiner's St John's Passion at the Proms a couple of years ago was magnificent.)

I recommend the recent recording of the Easter and Ascension Oratorios by the Retrospect Ensemble by the way, you might enjoy it.
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