Frans Brüggen / Cappella Amsterdam / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century

Johann Sebastian Bach: St. John Passion, BWV 245

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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson

Anyone seeking a reliable, historically informed rendition of J.S. Bach's St. John Passion would do well to consider this exceptional recording by Cappella Amsterdam and the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, conducted by early music pioneer Frans Brüggen. The high quality of the singing recommends it, especially the performances of Markus Schäfer as the Evangelist and Thomas Oliemans as Jesus, and the other soloists and chorus convey the story of the Passion of Christ with eloquence and gravitas. The original instruments and authentic period style of the playing give the instrumental parts a strikingly plangent quality, which is perhaps most vivid in the oboes, whose chains of suspensions are among the most affecting characteristics of this work. While the performers are all in top form, the recording process may be the one aspect listeners will question. The St. John Passion was recorded live in Rotterdam, Haarlem, and Leiden, so the quality of the sound is variable from one hall to the next, and highly echoic in many tracks. Ostensibly taken from the best takes of these performances, and assembled to give the impression of one event, there are nonetheless significant differences in the placement of the voices and in the closeness of the orchestra that may indicate some changes in microphone placement. Beyond these subtle points, this is still a terrific package that serves the music well and bears comparison with other period versions.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
St John Passion, BWV 245
1 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 10:35 Amazon
2 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 02:18 Amazon
3 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 00:39 Amazon
4 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 01:03 Amazon
5 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 00:47 Amazon
6 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 00:44 Amazon
7 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 04:42 Amazon
8 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 00:14 Amazon
9 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 04:08 Amazon
10 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 02:57 Amazon
11 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 01:24 Amazon
12 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 02:05 Amazon
13 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 02:30 Amazon
14 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 01:10 Amazon
15 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 00:53
16 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 04:13
17 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 01:20
18 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 02:01
19 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 02:16
20 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 08:30
21 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 05:53
22 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 00:45
23 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 04:17
24 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 04:07
25 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 02:00
26 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 00:55

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
St John Passion, BWV 245
1 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 03:53
2 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 00:59
3 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 01:32
4 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 06:10
5 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 00:31
6 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 04:29
7 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 00:25
8 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 00:57
9 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 06:54
10 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 01:59
11 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 00:55
12 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 01:52
13 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 05:59
14 Cappella Amsterdam / Frans Brüggen / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century 01:40
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