Among the finest early music conductors, René Jacobs has recorded many of the great choral works and operas of the Baroque and Classical eras, almost exclusively for Harmonia Mundi. Yet he has waited decades to record J.S. Bach's towering masterpiece, the St. Matthew Passion, despite having studied and performed it many times throughout his career, first as a boy soprano, then years later as a countertenor and conductor. Fortunately, this 2013 release is well worth the wait, and Jacobs has produced a magnificent multichannel version that is a treasure for audiophiles and connoisseurs of this hallowed work. The large box set houses two SACDs and a DVD, along with a thick booklet, so the St. Matthew Passion is given a thorough presentation, and the recording offers clear instrumental details, rich choral textures, and full presence for the soloists. The RIAS Kammerchor and the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin deliver majestic performances of the choruses in authentic period style, and tenor Werner Güra as the Evangelist and bass Johannes Weisser as Jesus are well-matched in their fluid vocal quality and intense dramatic feeling. But the whole feels much greater than the sum of its parts, and the experience of hearing this extraordinary performance is overwhelming, both intellectually and emotionally. This set is highly recommended as one of the best recordings of 2013.
Share this page