Bach, J.S.: St Matthew Passion, BWV 244
In the 1970s and ’80s, Nikolaus Harnoncourt recorded a series of Bach cantatas with period instrument ensemble Concentus Musicus Wien, the Vienna Boys’ Choir and the Tölz Boys’ Choir. The recordings were a testament to Harnoncourt’s passion for Bach and his desire to perform these works with musical forces close to those Bach himself would have used. Composed in 1727, the St Matthew Passion is Bach’s most ambitious and beautiful retelling of the Passion story, with arias and choruses of staggering emotional depth and vivid description. In this 2001 recording of it, Harnoncourt still uses boys’ voices, but mostly to intone chorale themes, while the mixed Arnold Schoenberg Choir join for the dramatic choruses. His choice of world-class soloists includes baritone Matthias Goerne as Jesus, tenor Christoph Prégardien as the Evangelist and mezzo-soprano Bernarda Fink, who shines in the heartbreaking aria “Erbarme dich”.