St. Matthew Passion by Bach

It has been a week since Easter 2012. I am not a christian, though I used to learn Bible and to attend a church when I was young. It has been a kind of habit for me to listen to St. Matthew Passion by Bach around Easter every year. Maybe, since my med school days.

Last night, as that habit ordered me to, I listened this music played by Munchen Bach Ensemble Karl Richter conducted. It was the latest recording for him in 1971, I believe. Some people, believers in authentic performance, speak ill of it, or insist that he has returned to old fashioned performance away from his earlier achievement with strict and authentic performance.  I prefer, however, this performance to his earlier ones. The 1st music starts with slower tempo, in which the basso continuo is believed to express Jusus' pace to the hill of Golgotha. Richter might have restored to the old fashioned romanticism. So what? This performance should appeal deeper to the audience, at least, to me. I believe it fits this memorable history of tragedy. Just listen this enormous ouverture to the historical epic. You may listen the sound of Jesus's steps in the basso continuo.


  1. Shin

    I have a vinyl LP of Bach's cantata 140 "Wachet Auf" ( a very popular one) played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Adrian Boult ! A completely un-authentic performance, with a full modern concert orchestra and tempos far too slow and weighty. But I have loved it since I was a child !

    1. John,

      I have just finished a busy day at work. Yes, I am still semiretired now. It was a fun for me to see my patients whom I have known for years.

      It is this cantata "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme" which I listen to when cooking hi. Another great piece. The CD in our dinig living room is the recording by Richter conducting Muenchen Bach Choir and Orchestra. It sounds pretty modern. It must be an earlier recording than this Passion. I like this as well. I wonder how Boult was conducting this cantata. I have imagined your family listening to such a music as a routine.

      I often think the recording or performance of certain music which we first listen to in our lives is most impressive to us. It is like our first love. Of course, there must be many kinds of exceptions. But those first loves should often remain the best thing throughout our lives.