Related Reviews
Herald Scotland
'...rewarding...'
more >>
Ionarts
'...historically most informed... in an infectious, tight performance...'
more >>
Opera News
'One of the most thought-provoking recordings of the past few years, and ultimately one of the most fulfilling.'
more >>
American Record Guide
'...people interested in Bach's passion as liturgy will be fascinated by what is here.'
more >>
Scherzo
'La dirección de Butt se nota asimismo de una minuciosidad extrema, en lo cual recibe la inestimable ayuda de unas tomas de amplia atmósfera y en el punto justo de reverberación para que la calidez de los mensajes lleguen sin un ápice de articio'
more >>
International Record Review
'All of the soloists are generally outstanding. Nicholas Mulroy’s lithe, sensitive Evangelist is the epitome of narrative clarity and contrasts beautifully with the calming, authoritative richness of Matthew Brook’s Jesus.'
more >>
Classical.net
'Contrast has made for real impact'
more >>
MusicWeb International
Recording of the Month: 'I will not be surprised if this recording of the St. John Passion comes to be regarded as a landmark in the work's already distinguished discography.'
more >>
voix-des-arts.blogspot.co.uk
'The Dunedin Consort prove themselves to be instrumentalists of extraordinary ability.'
more >>
Early Music Review
'Whatever St John Passion you own, buy this one - it's unique!'
more >>
BBC Music Magazine
5 Stars
Recording of the Month: 'a dramatic, profoundly considered reading.'
more >>
Sunday Times
'Linn offers a fascinating extra dimension.'
more >>
Irish Times
'the performance is nimble on its feet.'
more >>
The Observer
'Historic and supremely important'
more >>
Audiophile Audition
'The performance is a fine one, even exceptional'
more >>
Financial Times
'wonderfully pure, buoyant and transparent.'
more >>
Herald Scotland
4 Stars
Live Review from Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow
more >>
The Guardian
4 Stars
Live Review from Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow
more >>
SA-CD.net
5 Stars
'Inspirational on every level.'
more >>
The Times
'the liturgical experience offers benefits to heart and mind'
more >>
MusicWeb International
Recording of the Month: 'an exceptionally fine small-scale performance'
more >>
The Herald
'A breakthrough on Bach's John Passion'
more >>
The Big Issue
'The impact is huge. The architecture, emotion and implication of Bach's music all change.'
more >>
McAlister Matheson Music
'This Johannes Passion performance is without doubt the most involving and dramatic I have encountered.'
more >>
Gramophone
Recording of the Month: '...[a] perfectly paced ensemble Passion'
more >>
Gramophone
'As the Dunedin Consort record Bach's St John Passion in the context of a Good Friday vespers, David Vickers speaks to John Butt and others about the rewards of liturgical reconstruction.'
more >>

John Passion - Dunedin Consort - Early Music Review


04 April 2013
Early Music Review
David Stancliff

The Dunedin Consort's John passion is something else. The result of careful research into the Good Friday Vespers Liturgy in Leipzig gives us a context that includes congregational singing of the proper chorales (with alternative verses in unison - 3 octaves!) and organ preludes on the tunes, carefully chosen so that part of the Buxtehude Prelude in F# minor played on the substantial Peter Collins organ in Greyfriars at 440 leads directly into the opening chorus of the Bach Passion. Similar sections surround the sermon - downloadable with other material - between Parts 1 and 2, and follow the Jacob Handl Motet at the end. This is welcome both for understanding the practical as well as the theological context in which Bach wrote and re-wrote the material we know as the John Passion over a long period, and musically the performance by the University of Glasgow Chapel choir provides just that vigorous hymn-singing contrast to the Dunedin Consort's extraordinarily nuances sound-world. If you've read John Butt's Bach's Dialogue with Modernity (CUP 2010), then this is the worked out musical counterpart.

In BWV 24 itself, there is everything you might expect - rather too brawny for the very delicate Erwge. Both Joanne Lunn and Clare Wilkinson were made for this kind of singing - voices that seem to have been formed in small consort ensembles, yet characterful with flute or oboe (Alexandra Bellamy - so good). Matthew Brook not only sings Jesus with conviction, but is splendidly lighter in the wonderful Mein teurer Heiland, whose accompanying chorale provides one of the texts for the Erdmann Neumeister sermon. But what is so very special is the ensemble - voices and instruments perfectly balanced without any recourse that I can tell to the endless rebalancing that sound engineers practise. He pairs of violins play so well in tune that it's hard to imagine there are two of them, and nowhere do jay instruments fail to be heard as equal partners, though the words are always crystal clear.

This is far and away the most musical and satisfying performance around among the many, many versions available; no-one - however many recordings you have of the John passion - should be without it.
Bookmark and Share


Related Links

Dunedin ConsortDunedin Consort
J.S. Bach: John Passion, Reconstruction of Bach's Passion LiturgyJ.S. Bach: John Passion, Reconstruction of Bach's Passion Liturgy