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 >>
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 >>
SA-CD.net
5 Stars
Highly recommended indeed
more >>

JS Bach Matthew Passion - Dunedin Consort - Atlanta Audio Society


01 May 2008
Atlanta Audio Society
Phil Muse

On a fine new offering from Linn, John Butt leads the Dunedin Consort and Players in a Matthew Passion characterized by sublimely sweet sadness plus a transparency and immediacy of feeling that serve the purposes of the story to perfection. The version used is J. S. Bach's final performing version of 1742 with his last instrumental changes. Eight principal voices, four in each of the two choirs, explore many different forms of dialogue, as if to draw us into a conversation occurring in real time. The solo scoring permits a form of expression more commonly associated with solo singing than choral performance. When these voices come together as disciples or those baying for Jesus's blood, we hear them as individuals constituting a group rather than a crowd.

Bach's arias, ariosos and framing choruses provide both an emotional interpretation of the biblical text and a commentary on it. The Passion's emphasis on dialogue form requires the presence of a double chorus and orchestra. This allows Bach to present contrasting or opposing moods simultaneously and for dialogue between a single speaker and a group. And it served to personalize the conflict in the Passion story itself for Bach's original listeners (who, we should remember, were encouraged to join in with the choruses).

Uniquely, the chorus reflects the common lot of humanity, filled with the questions of belief and doubt that plague us all. They interject "Wo," "Wie," Wer," "Was," "Wohin?" (Where, How, Who, What, When?) at crucial moments in the opening chorus and later during the trial of Jesus, as if impatient to know what's happening. At one point they call for Jesus' death: "Lass ihn kreuzigen" (Crucify him)! Later, they are moved to pity and remorse: "O, Haupt! Voll Blut und Wunden" (O, head full of blood and wounds). With Butt's single-voice-to-a-part approach (first pioneered in the US some twenty years ago by Joshua Rifkin), we have come a great distance from the massive choruses of the past that would have done justice to the Obermannergau Passion Play. While the smaller choruses allow for a great deal of nuance, they do not provide the feeling of bustle, chaos and occasional menace that we might have had with larger forces.

Butt has some outstanding vocalists among the Dunedin Consort, particularly soprano Susan Hamilton, alto Claire Wilkinson, and tenor Malcolm Bennett, with tenor Nicholas Mulroy as a persuasive Evangelist. In the crucial role of Jesus, bass Matthew Brook is called upon sparingly, but he is always true and decisive when we hear him. Among the arias, Wilkinson's "Ach, nun ist mein Jesu hin!" (Ah, now is my Jesus gone) and "Erbarme dich, mein Gott" (Have mercy, my God), Hamilton's "Ich will mein Herz dir schenken" (I will give my heart to you), Brook's "Mache dich, mein Herze, rein" (Make yourself pure, my heart), and Mulroy's "Ich will bei meinem Jesu wachen" (I will watch beside my Jesus) are first-rate. Soprano Cecilia Osmond, alto Annie Gill and bass Brian Bannatyne-Scott lend outstanding support. Add a beautifully textured string sound and lovely solos from the oboists in particular, and we have a really memorable and persuasive Matthew Passion that is at the same time easy on the ears.


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)