Episode 10: Download 'O Mensch, bewein' from the St. Matthew Passion

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Friday, November 14, 2014

We're offering a free download of  "O Mensch, Bewein" from Bach's St. Matthew Passion, conducted by John Eliot Gardiner and featuring the English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir.

Album Details:

St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: O Mensch, bewein' dein Sunde gross
Johann Sebastian Bach
John Eliot Gardiner, conductor
English Baroque Soloists
Archiv 427650
Available at Arkivmusic.com

Bach never wrote an opera – unless you count the Passions, the retellings of the last days of Christ’s life. The St. Matthew Passion has a double orchestra and double choir. Bach has the gospel characters speaking in music, and the choruses sing the emotions of the crowds. It’s still stunning today; imagine what it was for the Leipzig congregants who heard the first performances. "There is one woman who famously said, ‘Well, if we have to sit through this, we might as well sit through an opera,’” said conductor Simon Rattle. “And she got it absolutely right. I think people were horrified.”

Or maybe they were just tired. “The first part of the Matthew passion was 75 minutes," added Rattle. "And then some poor bastard had to give a sermon lasting an hour or two and then another two hours of music. That congregation had stamina." An hour-long sermon, and no concession stand? That’s no opera. But it is one of the greatest music dramas ever. Here’s the chorus that comes just before the sermon, the end of Part One: "O Mensch, bewein" – O man, bewail your grievous sins. 

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Comments [2]

Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Institute, Boonton, NJ

Like Shakespeare, JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH, had such comprehensive vision of the world he knew and such an imagination and compositional virtuosity to reach deep into many formats and get his message across. MOZART, BEETHOVEN and WAGNER IMHO are the only other musical geniuses that may still be as BACH widely played and appreciated one hundred years from now. Great as BACH was/is each composer has his/her own style and format and content so it is not appropriate to claim the top of the totem pole to any one great composer, no matter how great. I am partial to RICHARD WAGNER because his music most touchest both my personal and professional life. But Mozart, Beethoven, Bellini, Verdi, Puccini, Berlioz, Rossini, Saint-Saens, Gounod, Massenet, Giordano, Schubert, Schumann, Grieg, Ponchielli, Rimsky-Korsakoff, Moussorgsky, Arnold Schonberg, Brahms, Richard and Johann Strauss, Bizet, Halevy, Meyerbeer and Hugo Wolf all have legitimate claims on my leisure as well as professional life. Ask a mother or father who their favorite child is if they have more than one and one will see it is not that easy to marginalize one's preferences. ALL deserve our attention and respect. There will always be time and devotion cheerfully dedicated to the presentation of this great master's ouevre. The test of time is virtually always the most respected judgment on the preciousness of anything. BACH's music has met that test. JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH is one of the great titanic geniuses of music and his music and its influence will be forever with us no matter what the current fads that will turn up as certainly as day follows night. SIngers and instrumentalists and music lovers all clamor for more BACH. I am a Wagnerian heldentenor, an opera composer ["Shakespeare" and "The Political Shakespeare"], teacher of voice production and I train and coach big-voiced singers in the Wagner rep and actors in the Shakespeare oeuvre. www.WagnerOpera.com

Nov. 14 2014 08:01 PM
Dennis Fitzpatrick from Las Vegas, NV

WQXR Jeff Spurgeon: The alto aria “Erbarme dich” lost half of its effectiveness by not being sung. Can't find a great Alto recording? Your program is wonderful for teaching children. Do it more than just November. I would like to hear more of WQXR and might contribute but your app does not broadcast easily here in Las Vegas, NV.

Dennis Fitzpatrick

Nov. 14 2014 01:22 PM

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