WORKS: St Matthew Passion
PERFORMER: Irmgard Seefried Antonia Fahberg (soprano) Hertha Töpper (alto) Ernst Haefliger (tenor) Kieth Engen, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Max Proebstl (bass) Munich Bach Choir & Orchestra/Karl Richter
CATALOGUE NO: 439 338-2 ADD (1959)
Richter was organist, two centuries on, at Bach’s church, the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, and his readings of the St Matthew Passion, including the use of some period solo instruments were, in their day, pace-setters. Ponderous, perhaps (Gardiner’s acclaimed full-price DG version cuts 40 minutes off Richter), but the strong aura of devotion is an asset.
Both Kieth Engen (Jesus) and Ernst Haefliger (Evangelist) are stretched at times, but the contralto, Hertha Töpper, is a distinguished soloist by any standards, and glimpses of a young, newly fledged Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau are intriguing. Roderic Dunnett