Academy of Ancient Music / Richard Egarr

Bach: St. John Passion

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    7
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AllMusic Review by

This historically oriented recording of the lesser-known of Bach's Passion settings sticks close to the middle of the road in its moderate-sized choir (16 voices) and orchestra, and in its rather undramatic approach to a work that in its own time was a controversially operatic approach to the Christian Bible. The main unusual selling point is the use of a reconstructed score of a hypothetical original 1724 version of the work. Other recordings offering a 1724 version mostly use later scores that remove the alterations Bach made in a major revision of 1725. The differences between what's done here and those later versions are not large, but the use of violas d'amore in several arias is distinctive; Bach later wrote those out of the score because they were obsolete. Among the soloists James Gilchrist as the Evangelist is the standout; he never loses the narrative thread in the work's considerable proportion of recitative. The Academy of Ancient Music under keyboardist/conductor Richard Egarr is precise, sweet, and smoothed down: listeners who like a low-key approach will find a competent one here. The medium-sized St. Jude-on-the-Hill church in London is appropriate in its dimensions and acoustically sympathetic in bringing out the detail Egarr finds in the work. Recommended, although there are plenty of other choices with sharper profiles.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
St John Passion, BWV 245
1 7:09
2 1:04
3 0:09
4 0:34
5 0:09
6 0:22
7 0:39
8 1:01
9 0:43
10 0:45
11 4:29
12 0:13
13 3:52
14 3:01
15 1:19
16 0:21
17 0:24
18 1:26
19 2:54
20 0:56

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
St John Passion, BWV 245
1 0:56
2 0:35
3 0:55
4 0:10
5 0:33
6 1:35
7 1:12
8 1:13
9 0:09
10 0:24
11 2:07
12 8:09
13 0:18
14 0:31
15 0:58
16 0:51
17 0:18
18 1:08
19 1:18
20 0:41
21 0:04
22 1:07
23 0:40
24 0:56
25 0:11
26 0:08
27 0:46
28 3:42
29 1:22
30 0:31
31 0:18
32 0:50
33 0:34
34 1:32
35 1:38
36 0:50
37 1:16
38 5:27
39 0:20
40 5:07
41 0:10
42 0:38
43 7:24
44 1:59
45 0:53
46 2:04
47 6:27
48 1:37
blue highlight denotes track pick