John Passion - Dunedin Consort - Early Music Review

This isn't our reviewer (David Stancliff) going over the top: it's a revelatory performance. Each time I've played it, it seems better. John Butt is a brilliant musicologist and, earlier in his career, he was a fine organist. That element returns in the framing sections of the cd which involved transposing by a semitone on the 440 organ at Greyfriars, Edinburgh, for the solos. John's career was transformed by his move from Cambridge to Glasgow (where he is professor), though the Dunedin Consort is based in Edinburgh. The mutual inspiration of scholarship and performance, together with his general vitality and imagination, brings his performances to life. Apart from the Passion itself, the surrounding liturgy is fascinating. I've known or years that the amazing final chorale (hitched up above normal congregational pitch) was followed by Handl/ Gallus's long-surviving Ecce quomodo moritur but I'd never heard them in sequence. (Incidentally, Handel quoted a section of it forcefully in his Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline in 1737, though I doubt if non-German listeners would have realised its significance). Whatever St John Passion you own, buy this one - it's unique!

Early Music Review
01 April 2013