Helmuth Rilling is an excellent conductor and interpreter of Bach's sacred music. Recorded from 1969 to 1985, over a longer period of time than most other sets, there is a lot of change throughout the series. Rilling's recordings are more dense and lush than others, and his tempi are often slower than HIP recordings - no "original instruments" for Rilling. But he creates such a detailed sound-world that any fan of these works should want to hear Rilling's versions to compare with others. This said, Rilling often uses a technique that I find a bit disturbing. He'll have one instrument or group of instruments sequestered to one track, and others on the other track, giving a sound similar to that of early Beatles' stereo mixes, where vocals were on one track and instruments on the other. This is something you never hear in live performance; while one instrument may be on one side, you still hear it on the other side. This tends to make some of the movements sound as though there's no blend among the singers and musicians.(Kirk McElhearn)
Blegen’s technically flawless and musically peerless rendition is a pure celebration of beautiful singing and of the wonder of Mozart’s dazzling masterpiece. The sound is as clear and immediate as if it had been recorded yesterday, and Pinchas Zukerman’s direction is exemplary. … Although Helmut Rilling’s tempos are sometimes too plodding (the opening Introitus, for example), he makes up for it elsewhere–in an emphatic Recordare and smoothly flowing Benedictus. And while the chorus has a somewhat saturated, conglomerate sound, its impact is nevertheless substantial, not only in the fullest, loudest sections, but also in the quieter passages, which come off as more evenly balanced. Soloists, on the other hand, are absolutely clear if perhaps just a bit too up-front, and the orchestra, which fares well overall, gets swallowed in the mix when the entire chorus is singing. Rilling requires keen articulation from his players and singers, which although normally a good thing sometimes (as in the opening of the Confutatis) seems overly deliberate and stifles the music’s natural momentum. However, if you’re looking for a good, basic reading of the traditional edition of the Requiem–and an unrivalled performance of the Exsultate, jubilate –you won’t go wrong with this decently remastered release. (David Vernier)
Deus Passus is one quarter of the Passion Project 2000, which celebrated not only the turning of the millennium but also commemorated the 250th anniversary of Bach’s death. German conductor Helmuth Rilling honored this occasion by commissioning Passions from four disparate composers: Wolfgang Rihm, Tan Dun, Sofia Gubaidulina, and Osvaldo Golijov. Deus Passus is a setting of the Passion according to St. Luke, and it is a marvel of a piece for many reasons. For a full hour and a half, with music that is mostly slow and largely atonal (in the sense that Berg’s music is atonal), the twisting, aching, unpredictable harmonies are totally captivating. Rihm chooses a straightforward setting, a simple, dramatic telling of the story, and it is in his capacity for restraint that the true brilliance of the piece lies. He uses the chorus sparingly, mostly for dramatic purposes, having it portray the angry rabble bent on crucifying Jesus (as it often does in Bach’s passions).
"Helmuth Rilling realisiert die stilistische Spannweite der Chöre vom nazarenischen a cappella über impressionistische Koloristik, einem fast Brahms'schen Sentiment, bis zur dramatischen Wucht vollkommen."~FonoForum
When it came to writing Passions, C. P. E. Bach was certainly far more prolific than his father, whose St. Matthew is by far and away the model against which all others are currently measured. He wrote 21 of these, or rather, he wrote bits and pieces of each one, the rest of which was cobbled together from works by his contemporaries and even his father. These were apparently required for the Easter season in Hamburg, and even his predecessor, Telemann, was obligated to write copious numbers of Passions as part of his employment in that city. When this recording was made in 1994, the only surviving work seemed to be a St. Mark Passion that existed in a score in Cologne, which was remarkable in that it seemed to be an original independent work that belied the knowledge that Bach had in fact written his Passions as pastiches.
FANFARE: Bertil van Boer
… Born in 1933 in Stuttgart, Germany, Helmuth Rilling is an active conductor, pedagogue and ambassador for the music of Bach worldwide. From 1970 to 1984, Mr. Rilling was the first musician to record all of Bach's Cantatas, and was the guiding hand behind the Internationale Bachakademie's critically-acclaimed project to record the complete works of Bach (172 CDs), which was released in 2000 to coincide with the 250th Anniversary of Bach's death. Since 1970, he has been the Artistic Director of the Oregon Bach Festival. In 2003 he became an Honorary Member of the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences. He won a Grammy® Award in 2000 for his recording of Krzystof Penderecki's “Credo” and was again nominated in 2001 for his recording of Wolfgang Rihm's "Deus Passus." In 2008, he was honored with the Sanford Award by the Yale School of Music at Yale University…