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Bach: St Matthew Passion Bwv 244 [Christina Landshamer; Stefan Kahle; Wolfram Lattke; Martin Lattke; St. Thomas Boys Choir Leipzig; Gewandhausorchester Leipzig; St. Thomas Cantor Georg Christoph Biller] [Accentus: ACC20256] [DVD]  [NTSC]
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The renowned St. Thomas Boys Choir of Leipzig, which boasts J. S. Bach as a former cantor, celebrates its 800th anniversary with an extraordinary interpretation of the St. Matthew Passion. The Guardian praised how the harmonic lines interwove with a transcendence that can only be achieved through living, eating and working together.
This Accentus Music production is the only audio-visual release of Bachs St. Matthew Passion, performed by the choir for which it was written, in St. Thomas Church, Leipzig, where the composer worked and is buried.
'It is for the chorales that the performance is to be savoured, as well as for the atmosphere and acoustic of the St. Thomas church. ' --Andrew Clark, Financial Times<br \><br \>'Biller's direction exudes profound integrity and commitment, the chorales in particular shaped by a deeply-felt inevitability, and the ethereal alto purity of recent Thomasschule graduate Stefan Kahle is deeply moving alongside the noble Christus of veteran Klaus Mertens and Christina Landshamer's radiant soprano... this is a moving testament to a choir celebrating 800 years and probably stronger than ever.' --Paul Riley, BBC Music Magazine - Dec.'12
An impressive evolution of the narrative is achieved largely by a judicious choice of tempi and the ringing reportage of Wolfram Lattke… Klaus Mertens is a seasoned and eloquent Christus, the pick of the crop, but with soprano Christina Landshamer also delivering consistently well, most notably in 'Aus Liebe'. There is much else to admire in this production in toto, with its coherent and visual values. --Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, Gramophone
There is a dedicated simplicity about this performance, totally in keeping with the circumstances under which it would have first been performed, that I found deeply affecting. Rather than having its greatness thrust upon you, Biller allows the music to unwind gently with disarming naturalness, something that if anything increases its profound emotional impact. --Julian Haylock, International Record Review
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The boys choir (the Thomanerchor Leipzig) is not perfect technically speaking (I think few boys choirs are perfect), but this choir has some kind of magic for me and I can't forget that J.S.Bach was its Kantor when he wrote this great Passion (and probably this Passion was first performed in the church where this recording has been made, the Thomaskirche in Leipzig).
The vocal soloists are really nice, specially the wonderful bass-baritone Klaus Mertens (who did an incredible work recording the complete Bach Cantatas with Ton Koopman), singing here as Jesus. The countertenor (Stefan Kahle) does a great work too. He's very young and I think he has a great potential.
The conductor is Georg Christoph Biller (who is the Thomaskantor at present). I think he does a nice work, though some tempi are too fast for me.
Both audio and video are superb.
Please excuse my English, English is not my mother tongue.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The new BluRay DVD by the St. Thomas Choir of Leipzig, an 800 year old institution that Bach himself graduated from, is both daring and eloquent and yet very true to the style of the period.
One bold departure from the traditional voicing of the work is the performance of Stefan Kahle, a male alto singing a part traditionally sung by a woman. A highly disciplined performer, Kahle renders every solo with an eloquence and beauty I have never heard in any previous performances. This is especially true in the exquisite duo for violin and alto: Erbarme dich, mein gott. Backed by a superb violinist, this aria is breathtaking. I highly recommend this.
That said, I enjoy this blu-ray expecting repeated watching and listening.