C.P.E Bach moved to Hamburg in 1768 and was asked to perform the prevailingly popular “Old School” passions in the city’s churches. Bach himself hadn’t been sure whether Hamburg preferred passions “in the historical and old fashion with the Evangelist” as he wrote in an anxious letter to Georg Michael Telemann “or in the fashion of an oratorio.” The answer was the former; the latter, the more modern way, involved contemporary texts.
Hermann Max's recording of J. S. Bach: Matthaus Passion with the Rheinische Kantorei and Das Kleine Konzert embodies current orthodoxy in most respects: two choirs of 16 voices each are partnered by two orchestras of comparable size, with period instruments sounding at low (Baroque) pitch; tempos are mostly quite sprightly and textures light; ornamentation is sparing and discreet, but cadential appoggiaturas in the recitatives are mostly in place (though the latest fashion seems to be increasingly to omit them). Christoph Pregardien and Klaus Mertens are ideally cast as the Evangelist and Jesus: precise in diction, judicious in expression. The other soloists are more variable.
This is an important document, not least because what is actually captured on these discs is the first performance of this work since 1772. The score is presently housed in the archive of the Berlin Sing-Akademie after its discovery in the Ukraine. C.P.E.’s version of the Christ story is a dynamic one, with plenty of drama and much interaction between the various soloists and the chorus - a chorus that represents the Jews as well as performing the chorales.
Have you ever wondered what or who is the missing link between the Passions of J.S. Bach and the more ‘enlightened’ oratorios of Josef Haydn and his contemporaries? For that matter how did things come to change so quickly? I have recently reviewed some cantatas by Gottfried Homilius (1714-1785) on Carus 83.183 and he is certainly a link. But really it is C.P.E. Bach, that great reactionary and under-estimated genius, who is ‘yer man’.
This recording is a result of several years of reconstruction work and then a full performance which took place on Palm Sunday in 2003 after about 220 years of neglect.
While Anthony Newman has worn many hats on the musical stage, he is best known as an organist, especially for his interpretations of the works of Bach. In recent years, he has attracted considerable attention as a fortepianist; his 1989 recording of the Beethoven Third Piano Concerto received a Recording of the Year award from Stereo Review. He has concertized widely, often performing his own works, and has recorded for many labels, with about 140 total releases by the end of the twentieth century.
“…Through its inherent openness, Bach's keyboard music has become something of a musical mirror for different generations of pianists in the modern age, clearly reflecting the tastes and values of each time. While some works go in and out of vogue, others enjoy a stable popularity but undergo radical changes in the way they are understood and interpreted. Bach today generally sounds quite different from Bach 30 years ago, and still more different than Bach 50 years ago. In that sense his music is contemporary rather than classical. It has the potential to feel more or less as new today as it did 300 years ago…” (Víkingur Ólafsson)
Brilliant Classics embarked on a daring project in the year 2000, the year of the 250th anniversary of Johann Sebastian Bach's death: this budget label decided to release a complete set of Bach's works. They were not the only label to do so - Teldec and Haenssler both did as well - but the Brilliant Classics set stands out for several reasons. First, they attempted (though did not fully succeed) to create a complete set entirely recorded on period instruments, using historically informed performances.
The ultimate collection of the complete music of J.S. Bach. Having all of Bach's music at my fingertips is a dream come true. This astonishing collection of music is a historic event. Teldec has compiled an excellent collection of all the works of J.S. Bach, from well-known to the obscure, performed by a wide variety of highly respected musicians. There are many, many treasures included in this collection, for example: the cello suites performed by Nikolaus Harnoncourt now on cd for the first time. And the 4-cd set of chorales is stunning.