Out-of-print recordings of performances by Günther Ramin

Günther Ramin was the kantor at Bach’s Thomaskirche in Leipzig from 1940 until his death at age 58 in 1956. He brought to Bach’s music a profound and passionate understanding that is manifest in the recordings we are fortunate to have. Berlin Classics label put out twenty-seven Ramin-conducted cantatas on nine CDs (these unfortunately did not include the great Cantata 78, which existed only on a Eurodisc LP). These and the famous (somewhat abridged) 1941 Matthew Passion are generally available. The Archipel label came out with a complete 1952 live performance of the Matthew that is now out-of-print. This is a double pity, as the album’s third CD contains a magnificent performance from 1950 of Cantata 4, never before available in any format; indeed, it is not even announced on Archipel’s album cover or on the disc itself, but only on the insert. Ars Vivendi CD 2100254 contains seven improvisations/compositions by Günther Ramin; I believe it is still available. The Six Motets can rather easily be found on LP or CD.

There follows a list of out-of-print Ramin performances placed onto CDs. In the choral works, Ramin conducts the Thomanerchor and members of the Gewandhaus Orchester, unless otherwise indicated. Most are from LPs, copied here unprofessionally but with love. The CDs may be ordered by e-mail at ScholaAntiqua@embarqmail.com. They are fifteen dollars for each CD, including postage; checks may be made out to Schola Antiqua and mailed to R. John Blackley, 407 Spring Valley Road, Lexington, Virginia 24450.

GR 1. Cantata 4, Christ lag in Todesbanden, and Cantata 78, Jesu der du meine Seele.

GR 2. Cantata 63, Christen, ätzet diesen Tag, and the Magnificat. These are informal recordings, courtesy of Dr. Dieter Ramin, Günther’s son; they are generally available for the first time. The cantata, from December 11, 1953, has Ulrike Taube, soprano; Sibylla Plate, alto; Gert Lutze, tenor; and Hannes Hauptmann, bass; Hannes Kästner is organist. The Magnificat, from November 29, 1952, has Anna Maria Augenstein, soprano; Lotte Wolf Mathäus, alto; Rolf Apreck, tenor; and Hans Krämer, bass.

GR 3. Auszüge aus der Messe in h-mol. Cantate LP 640 223, long out-of-print. Excerpts from a live performance in 1950, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Bach’s death, in which the Dresdner Kreuzchor joined the Thomanerchor. The complete Kyrie, and Cum sancto spiritu, Confiteor, Et expecto, Sanctus, Agnus dei, Dona nobis pacem. Soloists are Gertrud Birmele, soprano; Lotte Wolf-Matthäus, alto; Karl Richter plays the cembalo, and Hannes Kästner plays the organ.

GR 4 (2 CDs). Christmas Oratorio, parts I—III. Soloists are Helga Gabriel, Ursula Boese, Leo Larsen, Jakob Stämpfli; players are the Hamburg Chamber Orchestra. (Interesting that both Günther Ramin and Fritz Lehmann died midway through recording this work.) Also, works played by Ramin on the harpsichord: Handel’s Chaconne in G, and Bach’s Partita No. 4 in D and Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in d, recorded live in the Small Hall of the Moscow Conservatory on June 19, 1954.

GR 5. Twenty-one solo and choral excerpts from the John Passion, taken from a live 1955 performance. Agnes Giebel, soprano; Marga Höffgen, alto; Ernst Haefliger, tenor; Hans-Olaf Hudemann, bass.

GR 6. Six motets--by a 15th-century master, Giovanni Gabrieli, Jacobus Handl-Gallus, Johannes Brahms, Zoltán Kodály, and Wilhelm Weismann; with the Thomanerchor, a capella.

GR 7. Christmas pieces sung by the Thomanerchor, a capella.

GR 8 (2 CDs). Mass in B-Minor. Not on the level of GR 3, and the sound is pretty ancient, but it is a complete performance. The Teachers’ Choral Society of Munich and the Bavarian State Orchestra; with Uta Graf, soprano; Hertha Töpper, alto; Gert Lütze, tenor; and Max Pröbstl, bass.

GR 9 (2 CDs). Günther Ramin plays Bach’s Prelude, Largo, and Fugue in C-Major and his Toccata and Fugue in C-Major, both on the Sauer Organ at the Thomaskirche. The Fantasy in G-Major, the Orgelbüchlein (15 pieces), and the Prelude and Fugue in C-Major, all on the organ of the University of Leipzig. In a live performance on the harpsichord in the Small Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, June 19, 1954: Handel’s Chaconne in G-Major, Bach’s Partita No. 4 in D-Major, and his Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue. [Same as on GR 5.] And, on a Beckerath Organ, Max Reger’s Fantasy and Fugue on B-A-C-H and his Intdroduction and Passacaglia in D-Minor.