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Bach Johannes-Passion / St. John Passion

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Bach: St. John Passion [Gardiner]

The overriding tone of Gardiner’s presentation overall is devotional. However, intertwined with that is a good dose of drama. The drama is never overdone, however. But fear not, there is plenty of wonderful drama in part II. One of Gardiner’s greatest assets has always been the Monteverdi Choir and so it is here too. They are in particularly wonderful voice in this performance. The pacing is steady throughout but never rushed yet Gardiner retains that essential accented lilt that is a requisite in the music of Bach, for me anyway. When the pace does pick up in Part II it is intense but not frantic. This is quite a refined version to my ears and I find it to be a particularly easy presentation to listen to.

Bach: St. John Passion [Suzuki] from this set

The atmosphere of this presentation is, to me, very much in the story telling mode. It is neither overly devotional nor overly dramatic overall. It is rather matter-of-fact about its presentation, I find. The choral singing is excellent and the instrumental playing is also very good. The soloists all sound really clear and crisp and perhaps that is where I am picking up my perceived matter-of-fact tone. They do perform very well, however. This is not a bad thing; it is just a different interpretative approach and presentation.


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