Accardo's performances are nothing short of spectacular, and (the late) Kurt Masur and the Gewandhaus's performances never disappoint. Most classical audiophiles may be familiar only with Bruch's first violin concerto and the "Scottish Fantasy," but there are two more wonderful violin concertos, a Romance, a Konzertstuck, a Serenade, a piece entitled "Adagio Appassionato" and a piece that was new to me, "In Memoriam," a very beautiful and moving composition that is the last band on the last record.
These performances are not, to be sure, historically informed, nor are they fashionably chamber-like. The Thomanerchor is traditionally large (and all male), and it is accompanied in four of the 11 discs by the Gewandhaus Orchestra and in the remaining seven by the Neues Bachisches Collegium Musicum. The roster of the latter is not listed, but, like the Gewandhaus Orchestra, its players use modern instruments and are not adverse to vibrato. On the other hand, Rotzsch does avoid, for the most part, languid tempos and extravagant gestures. The young men of the Thomanerchor are well trained and attentive and make, collectively, a joyfully controlled noise. The orchestral players and instrumental soloists, too, are beyond reproach. Similarly, Rotzsch’s soloists are top-drawer. Among the latter, Arleen Augér, Otrun Wenkel, Peter Schreier, and Hermann Christian Polster make the most frequent appearances, but the others, including the likes of Regina Werner, Doris Soffel, Theo Adam, and Siegfried Lorenz, are splendid as well. Rotzsch, himself, sings on two of the discs (he is a tenor).–George Chien
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.
How good to see Riccardo Chailly so radiant at the end of this great event.It's an exhilaration he earns through sheer hard work as well as injecting the adrenalin at most of the right moments.(Majority) of the singers are excellent,from two very different but keenly-projected lyric-dramatic sopranos,Erika Sunnegardh and Ricardo Merbeth,to Georg Zeppenfeld,whose bass is rock solid and expressive across a huge range.Chailly holds attention between movements and makes you realise how many soloists within the orchestra have to sing,too.His Leader,the superb Sebastian Breuninger,assists him between blazes in the most striking of chamber-musical moments.Breuninger shares the front desk of viloins in Claudio Abbado's Lucerne festival Orchestra,but this one Mahler symphony Abbado's forces have yet to tackle,and Chailly's rendering leads the field on DVD. (BBC Music Magzine)