Johann Sebastian Bach's monumental St. Matthew Passion was first performed on Good Friday in 1727 at the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig. It is the largest single composition Bach ever wrote, both in terms of length and in terms of instrumental and vocal forces. It requires two choruses, two orchestras, four vocal soloists for the arias and vocal soloists for each of the various character parts. Philippe Herreweghe's 1999 recording of Bach's masterpiece features a stellar cast and was a perennial catalog bestseller.
As a keyboardist, Ton Koopman has appeared on the most prestigious concert stages of five continents and has produced an extensive discography on Erato, Philips, Sony, Teldec, and other labels. He has concertized on many of the greatest historical organs throughout Europe. He plays harpsichord while leading the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir (both of which he also founded), in addition to giving regular guest performances with professional orchestras throughout the world. He has taught harpsichord at the Sweelinck conservatory, serves as a professor of harpsichord at the Hague's Royal Conservatory, and is an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music in London. Koopman's first international prizes – a pair of Prix d'Excellence – came for his performances on organ and harpsichord.
Legendary Bach interpreter Karl Richter leads his Münchener Bach-Orchester and choir in a double-DVD version of J. S. Bach's grandest sacred work, a riveting chronicle of the Last Supper and Christ's final hours, with the Gospel text sung by Peter Schreier as the Evangelist.
This 2012 recording of the most influential and wide spread oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach features the Hungarian conductor Iván Fischer, a visionary in his field, with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. The double choir is the essential musical aspect on which Iván Fischer’s interpretation of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion is based. Only by consistently seizing on that duality will all the complementary layers stand out as they should. He describes this essential fundamental aspect as follows: “You can’t do the St. Matthew in an unreligious way. The only approach is from a deep, universally religious feeling.
The renowned St. Thomas Boys Choir of Leipzig, which boasts J. S. Bach as a former cantor, celebrates its 800th anniversary with an extraordinary interpretation of the St. Matthew Passion. The Guardian praised how the harmonic lines interwove with a transcendence that can only be achieved through living, eating and working together. This Accentus Music production is the only audio-visual release of Bachs St. Matthew Passion, performed by the choir for which it was written, in St. Thomas Church, Leipzig, where the composer worked and is buried.