BACH St. Matthew Passion / McCreesh 4742002

His latest recording of Bach's "St Matthew Passion" places his work up for comparison with everyone from Furtwängler and Klemperer to Harnoncourt and Gardiner.

The instrumental playing is excellent, both collectively and in the solos that so beautifully adorn Bach's arias.

It's a stunning interpretation of Bach's St Matthew Passion with the Gabrieli Players under Paul McCreesh . . . It's glorious, uplifting, noble and just the thing to listen to.

The recording also boasts a fine company of singers, with Julia Gooding, Magdalena Kozená, Susan Bickley and Stephan Loges adding strongly to the conductor's vivid vision of the score.

With this recording no ears are going to silt up with boredom. . . . Magdalena Kozená glories in her aria "Erbarme dich" . . . McCreesh knows exactly where he's going and why: this is a tight, clean Matthew Passion, exactly right for an age wary of heavyweight piety. I found it most refreshing.

The singing is exceptionally beautiful, particularly from alto Magdalena Kozená, and the choruses are bracing and illuminating ... McCreesh advocates light textures and flexible rhythms, and his Passion fits onto two CDs instead of the usual three. The period-instrument orchestra is strikingly colorful and fresh sounding. There is so much that is new in the sound of this unreverberant "St. Matthew" that it may remind listeners more of Stravinsky than Bach.

Some of the singing is exceptionally beautiful, particularly from alto Magdalena Kozená, and the choruses are bracing and illuminating. . . . The period-instrument orchestra is strikingly colorful and fresh sounding.

The singers are magnificent as a team, and the effect, when combined with the sleek and nimble performances of the instrumentalists, can be gripping -- giving us a radical idea of what this piece, in its purest form, may really be.

There can be no denying that McCreesh uses the single voices to great and encouraging effect. The warm intimacy of expression in the chorales is often spell-binding, the lucid realism of the madrigalian commentaries touchingly palpable and the crowd scenes almost crazed, as if one were within the mob. McCreesh's pragmatism also ensures that his quality singers produce a rich tonal body.

It is refreshing to be able to hear all the details of Bach's instrumental writing ż the oboe playing is superb ż and of his vocal counterpoint, not to mention all the words.

The contrast of the solo music with the chorales - which then become the statements of the populace - is dramatically very effective and, I confess, came as a complete surprise to me. This is not to deny or dismiss in any way the many glorious performances that have been given and recorded over the years with choral forces, large and small. The present performance, if it were less good, would be of academic interest only; but it is one of the most wonderful Bach recordings I have ever heard. Paul McCreesh's other Bach recordings are remarkably fine and here as always, in keeping with his belief that much of Bach's music is rooted in dance, he takes remarkably brisk tempos at times. ... What is more important is that it is an immediate and wonderfully vivid performance of one of the greatest masterpieces in the history of music. I could not imagine being without it. ... this St. Matthew is above all a team effort that, in the final analysis, is an eloquent testimony to McCreesh's burning conviction about the way the work should be performed. I am left in no doubt that not only is it a document of the highest importance, but a deeply moving and passionate experience for minds and ears not inextricably closed by tradition.

I absolutely adore this. It was very daring to use just nine solo voices throughout, but Paul McCreesh completely persuades you that it's right and still makes the whole thing sound huge. It's a great piece of narrative storytelling, a compelling blend of economy and passion. Besides being musically ravishing, he holds you on the edge of your seat. More tellingly McCreesh never tells you how to feel.

Paul McCreesh's performance of the Bach's St. Matthew Passion is simply a landmark recording.

. . . a radical idea of what this work, in its purest form, can be.

Nichts weniger als eine Sensation!

Erlöser aus England - Paul McCreesh mit der Matthäus-Passion ... das Ergebnis ist so genial wie verblüffend. Dank der kleinstmöglichen Besetzung erlebt man die Passion plötzlich als gesamtheitlich menschheitsumfassend - weil die lästige Trennung in Chor und Solisten aufgehoben ist.

... dass in den Choralsätzen so herrlich verziert wird, dass die zwei sehr schönen Orgeln den Basso continuo zu so ausgeprägtem Profil bringen, dass das Sprechende, ja das Dramatische der Passion so handgreiflich wird - das alles spricht für eine Aufnahme, die einen weiteren Meilenstein in der Geschichte der Bach-Interpretation setzt.

Die Tempi sind schnell, die Chöre klingen glasklar, auch die Balance zu den Arien leidet nicht. Und endlich einmal sind die mehrstimmigen Sätze in ihrer ganzen variantenreichen
Schönheit deutlich hör- und erlebbar.

Als Repräsentant der "Alte-Musik-Bewegung" stemmt sich Paul McCreesh gegen jede romantische Aufführungstradition. Die achtköpfigen, lupenrein intonierenden Vokalisten übernehmen solistische Aufgaben. Vorbildlich die trefflich verfolgbaren Stimmverläufe im polyphonen Gefüge. Wo kunstvolle Kommentare vermittelt werden, reagiert das Ensemble mit den Gabrieli Players mit vorbildlicher Klarheit. McCreesh liefert den Beweis, wie sich Ergriffenheit auch ohne die überrumpelnde Gewalt der Chormassen einstellt.

Seit vielen Hörjahren stellte sich so für mich erstmalig wieder ein Gänsehauteffekt ein, so als erlebte ich die Passion wie beim ersten Mal. Auf dieses exemplarisch gelungene Experiment, das aber sicherlich die Geister scheiden wird, hat sich zu warten gelohnt.

Die Umsetzung der solistischen Besetzung bei den Gesangsstimmen kann in der Aufnahme von McCreesh als rundum geglückt angesehen werden... Zweifellos hat diese Aufnahme damit einen Coup gelandet.

Das Ergebnis ist aufsehenerregend, beeindruckender noch als in jenen Kantaten und lateinischen Kirchenchorwerken Bachs, die McCreesh in zwei Produktionen der vergangenen Jahre vorstellte.

Los tímbres instrumentales son muy atractivos -magníficos los oboes- y hay secuencias fraseadas con
apreciable elegancia ... La version cuenta con el excelente Evangelista de Padmore, auténtico hilo conductor de la construcción de la "Pasión", el Jesús más endeble de Harvey y destacadas intervenciones de Kozená, cuyo "Ach, Golgatha" es uno de los momentos más punzantes de toda la interpretación.