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Matthew Gurewitsch
Opera News, August 2013

BACH, J.S.: St. Matthew Passion (Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, I. Fischer) (NTSC) 101676
BACH, J.S.: St. Matthew Passion (Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, I. Fischer) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) 108075

…the Concertgebouw team, led by Iván Fischer, needs fear comparison with no one, and the involvement and concentration the camera discovers on the musicians’ faces tell an eloquent story.

You’ll see no playacting here. You’ll hear no reaching for pitches, no smudging of the little notes. The performers—instrumentalists and vocalists alike—merely execute their assignments as immaculately and expressively as they know how.

The eight artists’ voices are lean, even, and transparent yet distinctive. All articulate with the clarity of virtuoso instrumentalists. All own the text. Each deserves individual appreciation…

Padmore’s Evangelist recites gospel with unsurpassed sensitivity, maintaining his unpinched, sunny timbre even in the incessant top notes of his wickedly high-lying recitatives. Harvey’s Christus seeks majesty in plain-spoken gentleness and never fails to find it. The men’s arias and arioso bring into play their poetic phrasing and the full sheen of their voices. © 2013 Opera News Read complete review

Matthew Richard Martinez, July 2013

The…soloists were supremely adequate and virtually outstanding.

The Netherland Radio Choir was splendidly musical. Their diction was crisp, their phrasing refined and effortless. Most striking about this group was how uniform the color of sound was across the sections. Top to bottom, the group’s sound was amazingly consistent. On top of that, it was quite dynamic, injecting the double choruses with fury and vigor. The National Children’s Choir were well-prepared and sang with nice color, never approaching strident or breathy.

The reduced Concertgebouw Orchestra was magnificent. Playing on modern instruments, the strings generally played with straight-tone, but never made the character of sound harsh. They breathed with Fischer and played with each other in a fine sense of ensemble. Special mention goes to the flute and English horn duo who played with mesmerizing tone and made it look easy at the same time. The continuo was a joy to watch and were remarkably sensitive but confidant.

Technically, this recording was a joy in surround sound…the engineers did an outstanding job in creating a wide and deep sound stage that was richly detailed. The double choruses were thrilling while the smaller ensembles were lovingly captured. It was a joy to hear so much character of the hall in the recording. Visually, the picture was finely detailed…The video directing was unfussy yet always involving.

…Fischer leads a reading that is fervently committed, but not garish. The phrases ease into each other, effortlessly conveyed by the splendid musicians…Fischer so brilliantly achieves…a recording of exceptional ability and uncommon profundity. © 2013 Read complete review

Jeffrey Kauffman, March 2013

This performance makes beautiful use of the double choirs and orchestras which is one of this Passion’s defining features. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in collaboration with both the Netherlands Radio Choir and National Children’s Choir offer some incredibly sumptuous sonorities.

Virtually everything about this visual presentation, from the insert booklet of the Blu-ray itself to the burnished interior of the concert hall, is tinged with deep browns, offering a suitably somber setting for this moving work. A glut of cameras is able to capture everything from a variety of angles, and close-ups reveal very nice fine detail.

Fischer conducts with solemnity and grace, and the soloists, choirs and orchestra are simply superb throughout. Highly recommended. © 2013 Read complete review

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