Bach: St. Matthew Passion
Karl Münchinger
Catalogue No.

Although Bach wrote four (or five) settings of the Passions only two have survived; the St. Matthew Passion (Matthäus-Passion) and the St John Passion. The St. Matthew Passion was probably first performed on Good Friday (11 April) 1727 in the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, where Bach was the Kantor of the School and Directoris Chori musici of Leipzig. He had revised it by 1736, performing it again on 30 March 1736, this time including two organs in the instrumentation. He further revised and performed it again on 24 March 1742. Considered to be one of the greatest pieces of sacred music in Western music, it has been recorded many times, and this version, recorded in July 1964 has remained one of the reference recordings of the work, not least for the inclusion of Fritz Wunderlich as performer of the tenor arias, as well as the rest of the supreme vocal cast which includes Pears, Prey, Ameling and Krause.

Booklet notes are by the producer of this recording, the great Ray Minshull, and full texts, together with a new English translation are included.


St. Matthew Passion

Peter Pears (Evangelist)
Hermann Prey (Jesus)
Elly Ameling (soprano arias, Pilate’s wife)
Marga Höffgen (alto arias, second maid)
Fritz Wunderlich (tenor arias)
Tom Krause (bass arias)
Heinz Blankenburg (Petrus, High Priest, Pontius Pilatus)
August Messthaler (Judas)
Stuttgarter Hymnus-Chorknaben
Gerhard Wilhelm, chorus master
Stuttgarter Kammerorchester
Karl Münchinger

Recording information

Recording Producer: Ray Minshull
Balance Engineer: Martin Fouqué
Recording Location: Schloss Ludwigsburg, Ludwigsburg, Germany, July 1964


‘Münchinger’s version is consistently fresh and alert, and it has the degree of authenticity of its period (1965) – although much has happened to Bach performances since then. All the soloists are excellent, and the recording is first class’ Penguin Guide to CDs

‘An extraordinarily beautiful version of the St. Matthew Passion … Slow, elegant, at times ethereal, a clear antidote to the roboBach we so often hear … the ultimate Bach with grace and style’ (Tom Garrison, review at

‘Elly Ameling [is] always sweet-toned and sensitive and Peter Pears outstanding as the Evangelist in St. Matthew Passion. Münchinger’s […] direct and responsive reading makes a refreshing impact when the choral singing is so impressive and the sound so vivid.’ Gramophone