John Passion Live - Dunedin Consort - The Guardian

In the evening came Bach’s St John Passion, with John Butt and his Dunedin Consort making their overdue Proms debut with a performance that shed new light on the work by carefully contextualising it. Bach’s Passion was originally heard during Vespers on Good Friday and Butt presented the full service with the Passion at its centre, flanked by hymns, organ voluntaries, even the closing benediction. The audience was asked to sing along with the Vespers chorales.

The Passion itself was preceded by Buxtehude’s Organ Prelude in F Sharp Minor, played by Stephen Farr, and Bach’s turbulent opening chorus made an unforgettable effect as its chords died away. Butt used larger forces than he might have done in a smaller venue, and the choral and instrumental counterpoint, though beautifully shaped, was occasionally smudged by the Albert Hall’s foggy acoustic. Nicholas Mulroy made a superbly committed Evangelist, horrified on occasion by the tale he is telling. Matthew Brook’s Jesus was at times strikingly angry. Counter-tenor Tim Mead, at his most beautiful in Es Ist Vollbracht, led the distinguished lineup of soloists in the arias.

The Guardian
21 August 2017