horizontal line

Eduard van Beinum was co-principal conductor of the Concertgebouw orchestra from 1938 alongside Willem Mengelberg, and became principal conductor after the second world war.

This recording documents a previously lost mono radio broadcast made in 1958, a year before his death. it shows how Van Beinum, one of the last of the romantic conductors (along with Mengelberg, Furtwängler and Knappertsbusch), ‘cleaned up’ his predecessors’ way of presenting Bach’s Passion, that had Mendelssohn-inspired romantic interpretation and large-scale editing of the score. Van Beinum reinstated omissions and worked in a more democratic way with his musicians. Chorales are taken at similar speeds, and recitatives bear surprisingly close resemblance to the fast-paced, lightly directed ‘authentic’ performances of today.

This is not a sound that is easy to listen to, unless you are a collector of period recordings (the reproduction is muffled and there is considerable audience noise). Yet it is rewarding in the great voices and interpretations of the soloists, musically convincing by comparison with most other 1950s performance practice, and valuable for its rarity. Sleeve notes comprehend the historical context. But if you don’t yet own a recording of the St Matthew Passion, this is not the one to buy first!

MATTHEW POWER Read the full review on Agora Classica

   Read full review   

To continue reading, please upgrade to a premium account. You will have immediate full access.

Read more classical music reviews online here:

Choir & Organ, 2013 - ©Rhinegold Publishing