Bach: Matthew Passion

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All Music Guide - Stephen Eddins
Fresh from the success of a 2006 Classic FM Gramophone Award-winning recording of the Dublin version of "Messiah," conductor John Butt and the Dunedin Consort and Players have turned to Bach's "Matthew Passion." This is an even more radical departure from traditional performing practice than the Consort's 12-member chorus for "Messiah," which drew the soloists from the chorus. For the "Matthew Passion," which calls for a double chorus and soloists, Butt uses one singer on a part, with the primary soloists, including the Evangelist and Jesus, drawn from the choruses. He does use four additional singers for some of the smaller solo parts. Butt is able to achieve something ...
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2008 SACD New in new packaging. 3 discs. Originally released: 2008. Includes accompanying booklet with program notes.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Eddins
Fresh from the success of a 2006 Classic FM Gramophone Award-winning recording of the Dublin version of "Messiah," conductor John Butt and the Dunedin Consort and Players have turned to Bach's "Matthew Passion." This is an even more radical departure from traditional performing practice than the Consort's 12-member chorus for "Messiah," which drew the soloists from the chorus. For the "Matthew Passion," which calls for a double chorus and soloists, Butt uses one singer on a part, with the primary soloists, including the Evangelist and Jesus, drawn from the choruses. He does use four additional singers for some of the smaller solo parts. Butt is able to achieve something remarkable with this ensemble: each individual voice is clearly audible, but at the same time, the blend is smooth enough that the sound is fully choral. The texture is wonderfully transparent and clean, but one never feels a lack in the movements that call for a large, substantial sound. The decision to use one singer on a part is most striking in the arias accompanied by chorus; when a soloist is joined by one or two voices from the chorus, the effect is magically intimate. The movements that use full double choir gain in power set in relief against the smaller ensembles. The singers all have young, smooth, natural, fresh-sounding voices and are fully capable of handling the work's demands -- there is never the forced, strained sound that can sometimes characterize oratorio soloists. All eight singers deliver outstanding performances, earnest and dramatically charged, that make the passion's narrative element really compelling. Conductor Butt contributes to the urgency of the storytelling with a strong sense of the work's dramatic arc, driving some parts with propulsiveness, and allowing the reflective moments all the time they need to fully blossom. The double orchestra is scaled down in size to match the singing forces, and the sound is generally delicate, but always sufficient to deliver the power where the score requires it. The sound of Linn's SACD is exceptionally clean but resonant, with a strong sense of presence. The freshness and energy Butt brings to the score, the consistently high vocal quality of the singers, and the naturalness, ease, and dramatic insightfulness of the performances make this a recording that anyone who loves the "Matthew Passion" should seek out.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/1/2008
  • Label: Linn Records
  • UPC: 691062031325
  • Catalog Number: 313

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Dunedin Consort Primary Artist
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