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Bach: St. John Passion
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Bach, J.S.: St. John Passion
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Top Customer Reviews
This Passion is great in its own right. If the St.Matthew Passion did not exist, this work could almost take its place. Right from the opening bars it will be evident that great music is on its way, and it doesn't let up throughout the entire piece.
Structurally, the work is almost identical to the St. Matthew Passion, in that it is made up of Recitatives, choruses, and arias. A character named "Evangelist" tells the details of the story in recatitive; arias typically express the feelings of individual characters; and the choruses provide emotional and spiritual reflection on the current scenes. The piece is meant for Christian consumption, and allows the listener to identify with Jesus' suffering and sacrifice through music. Music doesn't typically get more religious than this. However, the music is so amazing that it can be enjoyed even on a non-religious level.
John Eliot Gardiner, The English Baroque Soloists, and the Monteverdi Choir are all in top form here. The performances are impeccable.
The 76-page CD booklet contains a fascinating history of the passion form.Read more ›
The English Baroque Soloists perform the orchestral accompaniment on period instruments, which allow them to balance their sound very beautifully against the chorus, even though there are more instrumentalists than singers. I believe the reason our music director uses his adult choir rather than his boys' choir on Good Friday is that his orchestra (pick-up musicians) with their modern instruments would tend to dominate the young voices.
So it is a pleasure to hear the more authentic Bach on this Archiv Produktion CD, even though there is no substitute for the experience of actually singing this mighty work. John Eliot Gardiner is able to speed his smaller, more flexible choir through the turbo choruses at tempi that must elicit a wistful sigh from my music director. His handling of the chorales sustains the emotional build-up of the Passion setting, and reinforces the listener's understanding as to why hymns were (and are) such an important part of a Protestant service.
The distinguished English tenor, Anthony Rolfe Johnson, sings the Evangelist in a clear, poignant tenor that is well-suited to this difficult role.
All of this recording's soloists sing their arias with intelligence and grace, but for me the final chorus is the emotional culmination of this Passion: "Rest well, rest well, Beloved, sweetly sleeping. That I may cease from further weeping, and let me too, rest well."
And all these sincere recommendations from someone always restrined in giving good reviews. Yet, this work and the way it's performed are, with the risk of repeting myself, beyond words.
I love this recording. The soloists are beyond reproach, and the voicings are perfectly blended almost everywhere so the counterpoint is utterly clear. Most importantly, however, the tremendous depth of this music is not lost despite the intellectual rigor that Gardiner brings to the music.
Much of "historically informed" performance, unfortunately, sounds academic, dry, and purely intellectual; while the performer often has an impressive cerebral understanding of the piece and its historical context, he or she is not able to transcend the intellect and get to the heart of the music. Gardiner can and does with this recording.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Superb in every aspect. Gardner knows how to interpret and perform Bach with the best of them.Published 10 months ago by Roger Tory
Who doesn't like Bach? And, this is THE recording to get for St. John Passion. I love the soprano soloist in the Ich Folge...Published 18 months ago by Rebs
It is an important performance that must be left to future generations.Published on July 20, 2014 by Satoshi Takimoto
Personally not my favorite. Tempo feels much too swift for me. Feel that many of the solos lack depth... need more emotion. Read morePublished on October 23, 2013 by M
I like to think that this is how this Passion might have sounded at its earliest performance: strings "scrawny" by our standards, a small chorus, singing that doesn't sound... Read morePublished on September 16, 2013 by Stanley Crowe
I purchased this product to replace a well-worn, well-loved LP recording. The crisp quality and depth of interpretation more than met my expectations. Read morePublished on April 20, 2013 by Velda F. Glick
The HIP Ministry of Love: it was the last place I wanted to be. I was under arrest for thoughtcrime. Read morePublished on March 5, 2012 by Bernard Michael O'Hanlon