One of the great performances. This set was recorded in 1958 when Richter was pioneering a newer, leaner style of Bach performance. Speeds are slow compared with HIP of today but this was the first attempt to bring Bach more in line with the performing customs of his day. The performance is rapt and dedicated without falling into the somnolence of someone like Klemperer. Soloists are generally superb with Haeflinger outstanding as evangelist. Recent years have taught us different ways of doing Bach, but this performance still remains a classic.
This recording captures a fairly early attempt at what might be described as historically informed performance. The HP movement has advanced so much that its aficionados would not think so, but for its day this was a groundbreaking performance, and it still packs a real punch. Of course Bach's music will always shine through any type of performance practice, from Klemperer and Karajan, via Gardener and Herreweghe, all superb in their own ways, to whatever the latest fad may be. The soloists here are wonderful,and it's especially a joy to hear the voice of Fischer-Dieskau in the arias, and the magnificent Evangelist of Haefliger. The chorus too, are a full-blooded bunch, dramatic when needed, or polished and hushed as required. The most wonderful three bars in all music, when the crowd realise that this truly was the Son of God, are possibly finer, certainly slower, here than in any other recording. For its day, the recorded sound is stunning, and everything can be heard with a clarity that contemporary engineers might envy. In sum, you should buy this, whatever other recording you own. You won't regret it.