Bach, Vaughan Williams - St Matthew Passion

Published Thursday 1st July 2004
Bach, Vaughan Williams - St Matthew Passion
Bach, Vaughan Williams - St Matthew Passion

STYLE: Choral
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
LABEL: Pearl GEMS0079
RELEASE DATE: 2000-06-27

Reviewed by Tony Cummings

When The Passion Of The Christ comes out on DVD I'm going to experiment by playing, as a soundtrack to those unforgettable images, this historic and, at times, magnificent recording of Bach's masterpiece. In 1958 Vaughan Williams - that giant of 20th century music - conducted the orchestra and choir at the Leith Hill Festival, a stunning achievement considering the dear man was 83 years old and the length of Johann Sebastian's classic (the performance here fully fills two albums). Thankfully, the organisers were forward-thinking enough to record the performance as a gift to their famed celebrity conductor and here it is in all its glorious resonance. Williams fully grasped the spiritual importance of the work and insisted that the choir and soloists (Eric Greene, Gordon Clinton, Pauline Brockless, Nancy Evans, Wilfred Brown, John Carol Case) follow the Elgar-Atkins edition of Bach's work utilising the King James Bible even if that edition required the occasional minor repointing of rhythm in Bach's recitatives. If you have other versions of the work you might still want this magnificent rendition here - that haunting aria "For Love, My Saviour Now Is Dying" or that towering climax where the 200 strong choir soar towards heaven are as good as it gets.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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