Veteran Dutch historical-instrument specialist Sigiswald Kuijken adopts a version of the one-voice-per-part procedure in this performance of Bach's St. John Passion, BWV 245, using four soloists and another quartet for the "ripieno" or choral passages. Refreshingly, he doesn't even try to claim historical authenticity for this in the interview-format notes, pointing instead to the "extremely natural balance with the instrumental ensemble" and the "textual expressivity his approach permits." He even concedes that for a major performance of this work, Bach would likely have had larger forces available. If you believe that the contrast between German Lutheran chorus and Italianate melody lies at the heart of Bach's appeal, forming a richness unparalleled since Albrecht Dürer infused Italian color into the severe German figures of his paintings, then look elsewhere. For the adherent of Kuijken's approach, however, this St. John Passion merits consideration, as much for the unexpected instrumental details emerging from Kuijken's La Petite Bande as for the work of the soloists; alto Petra Noskaiová is superb, but the others are a mixed bag. The sound, from Belgium's Academiezaal concert hall, is a major plus.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
Track Listing - Disc 1
|Johannes-Passion, BWV 245|
Part 1. No. 2a. Recitative. Jesus ging mit seinen Jüngern / No. 2b. Chorus. Jesum von Nazareth / No. 2c. Recitative. Jesus spricht zu ihnen
Part 1. No. 12a. Recitative. Und Hannas sandte ihn / No. 12b. Chorus. Bist du nicht seiner Jünger einer? / No. 12c. Recitative. Er leugnete aber und sprach