Related Reviews
MusicWeb International
"I have no hesitation in following suit and placing this at the head of my recommendations..."
more >>
Stereophile
2009 Records To Die For: "...this performance of the Christian Passion story grips you by the ears."
more >>
Choral Journal
"...the soloists sing with beauty and a genuine understanding..."
more >>
Muzyka21
5 Stars
An outstanding review from the Polish publication
more >>
Classical WETA
"The recording quality and sound of this Linn disc is, as usual with this audiophile label, stupendous."
more >>
AudioVideoHD
5 Stars
"Unos timbres de excepcional calidad, brillan en toda la obra..."
more >>
AudioEnz
"How does it sound? Well in one word: Glorious."
more >>
Pizzicato
5 Stars
'Supersonic Award' for the Dunedin's recording
more >>
The Absolute Sound
"beautifully rendered"
more >>
CD Compact
"El resultado sonoro es escalofriante, ni débil ni esquelético, ni pobre, sino perfectamente equilibrado..."
more >>
Toccata
"Die gesamte Interpretation atmet Fröhlichkeit, Spielfreude und höchstes Musiziervergnügen."
more >>
Hi-Fi News
4 Stars
A recording with 'intimacy and immediacy'
more >>
Star Ledger of New Jersey
"fresh, fine-tuned voices, a beautifully textured instrumental sound."
more >>
High Fidelity
4½ Stars
An excellent review from the Polish Audiophile publication
more >>
MusicWeb International
"...this one is very special indeed."
more >>
Opus Musica
"Excelente..."
more >>
Atlanta Audio Society
"...a really memorable and persuasive Matthew Passion..."
more >>
Audiophile Audition
4½ Stars
"...this one is tough to beat."
more >>
Klassik.com
4 Stars
"Sehr gutes Potenzial."
more >>
The Sunday Telegraph
A performance of 'disarming emotional and dramatic immediacy'
more >>
The Guardian
5 Stars
There's no doubt that this one is the pick of this year's crop...tinglingly vivid.
more >>
Financial Times
4 Stars
sheer intimacy of musical and dramatic dialogue
more >>
The Herald
5 Stars
They've done it again...the singing is to die for...
more >>
Kennis & Cultuur
'Deze Deze Matthäus Passion komt uit Edinburgh.....'
more >>
Daily Mail
4 Stars
Nicholas Mulroy is an excellent Evangelist
more >>
De Gelderlander
5 Stars
'Kopers van Bachpassies zitten tegenwoordig met een luxeprobleem...'
more >>
classicalsource.com
The musicianship of the youthful Dunedin Players is, quite simply, second to none
more >>
Berlingske
5 Stars
Alligevel skal man lede længe efter en flottere indspilning... Musikerne spiller som en drøm.
more >>
McAlister Matheson Music Newsletter
one of the most dramatically involving and emotionally searing performances of this work to have appeared on disc
more >>
BBC Music Magazine
5 Stars
My new benchmark. Performance ***** / Sound *****
more >>
Prelude
Wonderbaarlijk mooie Mattheuspassie
more >>
Trouw
"Dit is een versie waarin musicology is omgezet in verrassende muzikaliteit."
more >>
BBC Online
From the word go, the Dunedin Consort draws you in.
more >>
Gramophone
Butt's St Matthew is truly original in spheres resonating beyond established parameters. Gramophone Recommended.
more >>
The Scotsman
5 Stars
A highlight of 2008...brilliantly proficient
more >>
Trouw
Verfrissende ontdekkingsreis door Bachs Matthaus Passion is verrassend.
more >>
Classic FM magazine
Disc of the Month! Performances of stunning conviction
more >>
The Observer
5 Stars
The playing and the singing is outstanding. Highly recommended.
more >>
Independent on Sunday
one of the finest available one-voice-per-part Bach performances
more >>

JS Bach Matthew Passion - Dunedin Consort - SA-CD.net


29 February 2008
SA-CD.net
5 Stars

This the Dunedin Consort's follow-up recording to their most wonderful Handel: Messiah, and it is a very successful follow-up indeed.

Subtitled as "Bach's last performing version c.1742", this contains revisions which are largely subtle differences from the more commonly heard editions today. Perhaps the most significant change is the addition of a viola da gamba to orchestra two who plays a different part to that in orchestra one. It lends a much darker and sombre timbre than one is used to and at first it made me concerned that my speakers were playing tricks on my ears. There were no tricks though, the textures are darker which perfectly reflects the sense of anguish that is ever present in the music. The sombre mood is almost Romantic with the depth of feeling that John Butt cajoles from the Dunedin Consort and Players.

Unlike in the Messiah, Butt here opts for one voice to a part, meaning that he uses a total of 8 singers for the majority of the work. Susan Hamilton, Clare Wilkinson, Nicholas Mulroy and Matthew Brook make up Choir One; Cecilia Osmond, Annie Gill, Malcolm Bennett and Brian Bannatyne-Scott make up Choir Two. Mulroy and Brook are the superb Evangelist and Jesus respectively; they are supported by Gill and Bennett as the two witnesses. Completing the vocal line-up are the Soprano in ripieno from Ali Darragh (who is also Ancilla I & II and Uxor Pilatus) and Frances Cooper; Petrus, Pilatus, Pontifex, Pontifex II from Michael Wallace and the Judas & Pontifex I from Roderick Bryce. There is not a weak link to be heard amongst them.

As Butt himself says in his wonderful notes, the concept of this recording is one of dialogue (between soloists; soloists & choir and between choirs). The use of solitary voices really does allow this proposition to work - the expressive force adopted here would be overwhelming on a larger scale were it possible to train a choir to be able to sing in such a manner. The instrumentalists follow the "dialogues" with aplomb - both pointing and amplifying the musical argument with grace and sensitivity. All of this is helped by the pacing; fast enough to convey urgency and pain when needed yet relaxed when solemn moments require space.

This enterprise is perhaps best summarised with a quote from Butt's final paragraph in the notes to this set: "the performance reveals this work... to provide a musical experience that is almost on the threshold of what is emotionally bearable."

Where some companies would take Bach's use of two choruses and orchestras to conjure up a position between the two, Linn present them side by side yet the dialogue between the two ensembles in the opening Chorus and Chorale and their positioning is very tangible. Throughout, the sound is a model of clarity and yet is set far back enough to allow the two ensembles to coalesce into a convincing whole when the score dictates.

Highly recommended indeed, even if by the nature of Bach's score it is a less exhilarating experience than the Messiah as it is no less satisfying - they have whet my appetite for more!


Bookmark and Share


Related Links

Dunedin ConsortDunedin Consort
J.S. Bach: Matthew Passion (Final performing version, c. 1742)J.S. Bach: Matthew Passion (Final performing version, c. 1742)