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This is the premiere recording of J.S. Bach's John Passion heard for the first time within its original liturgical context. This recording marks the return of Dunedin Consort's star-studded cast including, Nicholas Mulroy, Matthew Brook, Robert Davies, Joanne Lunn and Clare Wilkinson. Director John Butt has given listeners an interpretation that will provide a refreshing outlook on this masterpiece and will show the John Passion in a completely new light. The Consort recreate the context of a passion performance during Bach's time at Leipzig; the University of Glasgow Chapel Choir (directed by James Grossmith) and a congregational choir of amateur singers perform motets and chorales from an original Leipzig hymn book and John Butt takes centre stage to perform organ preludes on the Collins organ at Greyfriar's Kirk in Edinburgh, where the recording took place.
Gramophone Magazine Recording of the Month: Bach's St John Passion gains more from the small-ensemble approach, I think, than its big sister, the St Matthew. Its emotional intimacy and urgency are better suited to the agility and immediacy a one-to-a-part performance brings, and the result can be a deeply compelling human drama. We have had several decent 'chamber' St Johns in recent years including recordings from the Ricercar Consort (7/11), Cantus Cölln and Portland Baroque (both 3/12) but this new one from John Butt and the Dunedin Consort really struck home for me by achieving its vital results without extravagant overstatement, overt 'holiness' or self-conscious marking-out of the work's architecture. Indeed, naturalness and emotional honesty are what emerge from this tight-knit and perfectly paced ensemble Passion, in which Bach's complex succession of recitatives, arias, choruses and chorales has surely seldom sounded so convincingly of a piece. --Gramophone Magazine, Lindsay Kemp, March 2013
John Butt freely admits that his new recording of the St John Passion is a reconstruction of a performance that never took place. It's a leap of imaginative faith; an ideal. Yet how illuminating such leaps can prove. Those outside the Lutheran tradition so often come to the Bach Passions as it they were some sort of altarpiece, deprived of their sacred surroundings and hung in a gallery to be revered as a great work of art. By putting the St John Passion in a liturgical context the first time this has been done on disc Butt reminds us that it was part of a living act of worship, and just how potently private and public devotion intersect: emotive solo arias interact within the bigger picture of gravelly unaccompanied congregational signing, chant and organ chorale preluding. In a concert performance the final chorale usually dissolves into silence before applause. Here it seamlessly surrenders to a tender funeral motet by Jacob Handl Gallus which, far from dissipating the moment, intensifies it and bridges the transition from Bach into the closing solemnities. Similarly, at the start the maelstrom of the opening chorus emerges out of a Buxtehude organ prelude. It's thrilling. And for those with stamina seeking added 'authenticity', it's possible to download from the Linn Records website a lengthy sermon such as anchored the Vespers service. --BBC Music Magazine, March 2013
Not only is this an exceptionally fine small-scale performance and recording with scholarly but readable notes, it attempts to bring us closer to the way in which the original listeners experienced the passion on Good Friday not a particular Good Friday because it's a composite of the various revisions, though as close as possible to the projected 1739 version but with material from the Lutheran Vespers service as celebrated at Leipzig in the early 18th century.
--MusicWeb International, Brian Wilson - Download News April 2013
"For the St. John Passion on record: The historically most informed John Butt with the Dunedin Consort (on Linn), set in its liturgical context of 18th century Leipzig Good Friday service (review here) using an amalgamate of the 1724 and 1749 versions of the St.John Passion is particularly intriguing. Beyond the special touch of the setting, it's a lively and fresh take, an infectious, tight performance which has grown on me with every hearing." --Jens F. Laurson, Forbes, April 2015
Listened to it completely through twice already, am listening to it now! A friend who participated in an exciting local performance of this work recommended this recording. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Peter B.
was not as thrilled as I have been with other Consort recordings, would not suggest this one at this timePublished 21 months ago by Jim Gadd