|Soloists:||Deborah York, Julia Gooding, Mark Padmore, James Gilchrist, Peter Harvey, Magdalena Kozena, Stephan Loges, Susan Bickley|
As musicologists such as Andrew Parrot and Joshua Rifkin indicate, many of Bach's works were, in fact, written with one voice singing per part in the chorus. While the St. John Passion indicates the use of ripienists (back-up singers) to total 8 singers in all (the "maximum" amount of singers available to Bach for one service), the St. Matthew Passion indicates only solo voices. There would only be four singers for each choir to reach the maximum capacity of 8 total singers.
The Evangelist and Jesus take the parts of Tenor and Bass in the first chorus as well, an approach which is economical and seemingly more convincing to Bach's own practice. Tempii are quick but not overdone. The mimimalist forces do not at all sound weak, and are just as projectile as a full sized chorus.
Joseph Fouse said:
Just a note-- now that McCreesh's hotly anticipated recording of the St Matthew Passion has been released (8 April 2003), we can see that, amazingly, it is *not* 244b that appears here on two discs. McCreesh, with (judiciously) brisk tempi and a wonderful continuity aided by the sharing of parts among soloists and choruses. "O Mensch bewein dein Sünde groß" ends part one, and the usual chorus, "Wir setzen uns", closes the work-- whatever McCreesh may have been doing in performance.
Highly recommended, by the way-- the opening chorus comes in at (6:06), which is really not all that much more jaunty than, say, Gardiner at (6:59). Whatever one's views on the validity of this approach, it is fresh and revelatory. Moreover, I think the use of one-to-a-part singers makes more of a "difference" in this work than in others that have received similar treatment-- if only because a single singer is now assuming so many roles.