Academy of Ancient Music

Bach: St. Matthew Passion

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This version of Bach's St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244, is led by British keyboardist Richard Egarr, increasingly often active as a conductor, at the helm of the venerable Academy of Ancient Music historical-instrument group. It has several distinctive features that more than justify a new recording of this towering work. Egarr reverts to the original 1727 score of the work, which has not often been recorded; most performances, naturally enough, use Bach's later revisions. The 1727 score is a sparer one in several respects, notably at the end of the first part, where Bach at first offered a simple chorale rather than the more elaborate chorus "O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß." It also has a single continuo line knitting together the whole work. Whatever one thinks of this, it fits well with Egarr's overall conception of the work, which sets emotionally direct performances by the very fine soloists against a driving, rather dry background. Egarr himself controls the whole thing from the harpsichord continuo. Sample some of the chorales, which Egarr quite ingeniously imports into the flow of the drama rather than making them moments of hymnlike repose. Moreover, the balance among Egarr's forces is beautifully done. He uses his own hand-trained Choir of the AAM made up of 20 voices for the two choirs: a size that strikes an ideal balance between severe one-voice-per-part approaches and gigantist Romantic choirs, but one that poses challenges for the singers. These are surmounted wonderfully by the choir, which achieves a rich, chamber-sized sound. This is a St. Matthew Passion that will bring new perspectives on the work, both in the musical material and in the overall interpretation. Fine engineering work from the AAM's own label team at the church of Saint-Jude-on-the-Hill in London, as well as an excellent booklet enclosed in hardcover binding, add to the appeal of the whole.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244
1 6:24
2 0:37
3 0:33
4 0:25
5 0:13
6 0:27
7 0:26
8 1:11
9 0:53
10 4:17
11 0:35
12 4:07
13 0:12
14 0:20
15 1:07
16 0:10
17 0:09
18 0:36
19 2:38
20 1:10
21 3:23
22 0:57
23 0:51
24 0:54
25 0:51
26 1:29
27 1:34
28 4:59
29 0:35
30 0:57
31 4:13
32 0:59
33 0:51
34 2:09
35 3:19
36 1:01
37 1:58
38 0:48

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244
1 3:16
2 1:04
3 0:35
4 1:04
5 0:56
6 3:31
7 1:06
8 0:10
9 0:13
10 0:18
11 0:36
12 0:54
13 0:09
14 1:16
15 6:40
16 0:47
17 0:55
18 0:07
19 0:41
20 2:36
21 1:49
22 0:49
23 1:49
24 0:15
25 0:32
26 0:14
27 1:09
28 5:03
29 0:04
30 0:14
31 0:24
32 0:38
33 0:19
34 0:58
35 6:13
36 0:36
37 0:08
38 0:12
39 0:57

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244
1 1:02
2 0:31
3 5:01
4 1:42
5 0:25
6 0:09
7 0:44
8 0:14
9 1:15
10 2:49
11 1:17
12 0:04
13 0:14
14 0:05
15 0:22
16 1:01
17 1:06
18 0:16
19 1:07
20 1:45
21 5:50
22 0:59
23 0:47
24 0:33
25 1:36
26 5:08
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