Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
St. Matthew Passion BWV 244 (1729)
Gerd Türk – Evangelist; Amaryllis Dieltiens, Siri Karoline Thornhill (sopranos); Tim Mead, Matthew White (counter-tenors); Julian Podger, Charles Daniels (tenors); Peter Harvey (bass) - Christus
Kampen Boys Choir
The Netherlands Bach Society/Jos van Veldhoven
rec. live, the Grote Kerk in Naarden, April 2010. DDD/DSD. Stereo/Surround. Libretto included
CHANNEL CLASSICS CCS SA 32511 [3 CDs: 69:51 + 54:38 + 40:56]

Experience Classicsonline

Recordings of the St Matthew Passion tend to be packaged as prestige items, but Channel Classics have gone a step further than most with this release. The slip-case contains a 3-gate fold-out with the actual discs, each printed with a painting of The Last Supper. There is also a hard-back book with the libretto and bios, which is copiously illustrated with religious art from down the years. The recording was made at the Grote Kerk in Naarden, and is being marketed as a collaboration with the Museum Catharijneconvent, a convent converted into a museum of religious art, with all the illustrations coming from their collections.

Fortunately, the quality of the performance and the recording lives up to the expectations that the packaging creates. It is one of those period instrument performances that finds an ideal balance between the intimacy of the small ensemble and the work's inherent drama. The soloists, both vocal and instrumental, all have the necessary charisma to pull off their various roles, but the mood remains plaintive throughout, and the solemn sense of occasion is never compromised by any virtuoso displays.

The configuration of soloists and ensembles is complicated and very possibly unique. To summarise the recent history of period performance of this work: Joshua Rifkin proposed in the early 1980s that the work had originally been performed one to a part; in other words, without any choirs. The idea was dismissed by most scholars until he produced irrefutable evidence to back his claim. There is a general feeling that in doing so, he spoiled the work for everybody. It now means that if you are going to use a choir of any size, you have to acknowledge that your performance is diverting from 'authentic' performance practice and give good reasons as to why that should be so.

This, presumably, is the reason for conductor Jos van Veldhoven's liner essay 'A Single-Choir Passion?', in which he explains the configuration used. His argument is that many of the choruses pre-date the Passion and were written for other vocal configurations, justifying - at least to some extent - the use of a single choir. The basic set-up is two orchestras, positioned to the left and right of the audience (the recordings were made at live performances), a choir supporting the soloists, who together make up Coro I, and four soloists acting as Coro II. He also has a boys choir singing the ripieno in the opening chorus, and it seems churlish to deny him that, especially when they sing so well. In fact, the whole set-up, inauthentic as it may be, is more than justified by the results. It means that there are enough singers to cover all the parts, and that there is some drama in the more energetic passages.

Drama but not weight. Everything about this recording is intimate and immediate. The absence of vibrato - apart from at one or two points from the higher soloists - suggests austerity, but Veldhoven makes the most of his lithe ensemble to introduce some rubato, occasionally subtle but also some grand gestures too. The way he slows up the endings of choruses might be extreme but always seems appropriate in context.

There are some interestingly distinctive voices among the soloists, but in general they all keep a fairly even tone to aid the unity of the whole. Gerd Türk articulates the role of the Evangelist with valuable clarity. His timbre in the upper register is a little strained, but that only adds to the discursive quality of his performance. Peter Harvey also gives a light performance as Christ, generally unemotional, but with the required presence to maintain the focus of the drama. Tim Mead, the alto, has more emotion and more timbral and dynamic variety than both. Some of his arias include some swoops between the higher notes that aren't to my taste, but nor do they stand out excessively. Amaryllis Dieltiens as the soprano is the only female voice among the (Coro I) soloists, so it is inevitable that she is going to stand out a little. In fact, the child-like quality of her voice fits very well. She has a fresh, open sound that complements the obbligato instruments beautifully. Her vibrato adds a touch of maturity to her performance, but while it is always controlled, it does seem excessive.

I am listening to this recording in SACD stereo, which sounds very good, but it is one of the first times that I have felt the need for surround. According to a short note from Jared Sacks in the liner, he has arranged the surround sound so that Coro I is in the front channels and Coro II in the rear channels. What a great idea! I'd really love to know what that sounds like. In the stereo mix, we get Coro I in the left channel and Coro II in the right, but it is not as pedantic as that suggests and the choral sound in particular spreads out across the array. For an ecclesiastical setting, the acoustic is surprisingly dry. Not to excess - it still has warmth, but in general the style of the recording favours detail over atmosphere.

A distinctive Matthew Passion then, and one that sheds fresh light on much of the music. Despite the inclusion of a ripieno choir and a boy's choir, this is still small-scale Bach. As such, it owes much to the spirit of Joshua Rifkin's research, if not his actual findings. Kudos to Channel Classics for their sumptuous production standards. Not only is the packaging beautiful, but the sound engineering is to a high standard and based on some very original thinking about the potential of high definition sound.

Gavin Dixon







































































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.