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St. John Passion - Passio Secundum - Johannem, BWV 245 - J.S. Bach

St. John Passion - Passio Secundum - Johannem, BWV 245 - J.S. Bach-Viola and Piano-Choral Collection
ID: SIGCD209 (EAN: 635212020920)  | 2 CD | DDD
Released in: 2010
Signum Records
Choral Collection
BACH, Johann Sebastian
BIER, Robin (alt) | CUNNOLD, Judith (soprano) | DARNELL, Jason (tenor) | ELLICOTT, Joshua (tenor) | LOGUE, Stephan (bass) | SARTIN, Caroline (alt) | SEYMOUR, Bethany (soprano) | VARCOE, Stephen (baritone)
Yorkshire Baroque Solists
Other info:

Charles Daniels, Evangelist Stephen Varcoe, Jesus Stephan Logue, Pilate

J.S. Bach’s ‘Passions’ have been said to employ the word with more than one meaning - as well as telling the story of Christ’s sacrifice, they are simultaneously a celebration of human feeling in the joy and suffering of man’s pilgrimage on earth. The expert early music chamber orchestra Yorkshire Baroque Soloists bring all of these feelings to life in a dramatic and resonant performance of Bach’s Passio Secundum Johannem (St John Passion).

Joined for this recording by the excellent Charles Daniels, Stephen Varcoe and Stephan Loges, the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists have been a leading light in the world of Early Music performance since their formation in 1973.

CD 1
BACH, Johann Sebastian (1685-1750) 
Part One 
1. Herr, unser Herrscher (Chorus)10:01 
2. Jesus ging mit seinen Jüngern (Evangelist, Jesus)2:18 
3. O große Lieb, o Lieb ohn' alle Maße (Chorale)0:34 
4. Auf daß das Wort erfüllet würde (Evangelist, Jesus)1:01 
5. Dein Will gescheh, Herr Gott, zugleich (Chorale)0:35 
6. Die Schar aber und der Oberhauptmann (Evangelist)0:39 
7. Von den Stricken meiner Sünden mich zu entbinden (Aria, alto)5:03 
8. Simon Petrus aber folgete Jesu nach (Evangelist)0:13 
9. Ich folge dir gleichfalls mit freudigen Schritten (Aria, soprano)3:40 
10. Derselbige Jünger war dem Hohenpriester bekannt3:03 
11. Wer hat dich so geschlagen (Chorale)1:08 
12. Und Hannas sandte ihn gebunden (Evangelist)2:09 
13. Ach, mein Sinn, wo willt du endlich hin (Aria, tenor)2:18 
14. Petrus, der nicht denkt zurück (Chorale)0:54 

CD 2
Part Two 
1. Christus, der uns selig macht (Chorale)0:47 
2. Da führeten sie Jesum von Kaiphas vor das Richthaus (Evangelist, Pilate)4:06 
3. Ach großer König, groß zu allen Zeiten (Chorale)1:05 
4. Da sprach Pilatus zu ihm (Evangelist, Pilate, Jesus)1:55 
5. Betrachte, meine Seel, mit ängstlichem Vergnügen (Arioso, bass)2:21 
6. Erwäge, wie sein blutgefärbter Rücken (Aria, tenor)7:39 
7. Und die Kriegsknechte flochten eine Krone von Dornen (Evangelist)5:40 
8. Durch dein Gefängnis, Gottes Sohn (Chorale)0:41 
9. Die Jüden aber schrieen und sprachen (Evangelist)4:11 
10. Eilt ihr angefochtnen Seelen (Aria, bass & chorus)3:47 
11. Allda kreuzigten sie ihn (Evangelist)2:05 
12. In meines Herzens Grunde (Chorale)0:30 
13. Die Kriegsknechte aber (Evangelist)3:45 
14. Er nahm alles wohl in acht (Chorale)0:53 
15. Und von Stund an nahm (Evangelist, Jesus)1:33 
16. Es ist vollbracht! (Aria, alto)5:38 
17. Und neigte das Haupt und verschied (Evangelist)0:23 
18. Mein teurer Heiland, laß dich fragen (Aria, bass & chorus)4:16 
19. Und Siehe da, der Vorhang im Tempel zerriß (Evangelist, Jesus)0:26 
20. Mein Herz, in dem die ganze Welt (Arioso, tenor)0:50 
21. Zerfließe, mein Herze (Aria, soprano)6:48 
22. Die Jüden aber, dieweil es der Rüsttag war (Evangelist)2:12 
23. O hilf, Christe, Gottes Sohn (Chorale)0:50 
24. Darnach bat Pilatum Joseph von Arimathia (Evangelist)2:16 
25. Ruht wohl, ihr heiligen Gebeine (Chorus)7:01 
26. Ach Herr, laß dein lieb Engelein (Chorale)1:32 


“ ... Charles Daniel's level-headed Evangelist anchors the narrative thrust with suave sagacity.”
BBC Music Magazine
Performance ***, Recording ****

“A coherent, articulate and engaging performance that balances well the work's twin identities as narrative and contemplation.”
MusicWeb International

"… as dramatically coherent and satisfying as I've heard for a while … this is a St John which carries open-hearted conviction and character before it."
The Gramophone

For many people, the words 'Bach' and 'Yorkshire' used in the same sentence evoke images of huge choral societies performing the B Minor Mass and the Passions at a dirge pace and accompanied by a full symphony orchestra. In fact, Yorkshire is also the home of the York Early Music Festival, of the excellent York University Music Department, and of the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists. Judging by the number of London-based players in the orchestra, I'm assuming the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists is a professional part-time ensemble. I suspect there is some institutional link with York University, where this was recorded and where all of the soloists seem to have studied, but the liner doesn't go into detail. Their St John Passion is an impressive recording. Orchestra, choir and soloists all deliver secure performances, and there are some moments of real beauty. In terms of performance conventions, we are looking at a period instrument orchestra of 14, a choir of 20 and three soloists, with smaller parts taken by singers from the choir. The pitch is A=415hz and the continuo organ is tuned to Valotti temperament. Tempos are in the range of moderate to brisk, but there are no radically fast choruses. The continuo accompaniment is solid and largely undecorated. The opening chorus, which is really the only chorus in the work, puts the performers through their paces. Both choir and orchestra come through clearly in the audio, with plenty of detail if perhaps a slight lack of presence. The balance of the choir is good, although the tenors struggle a little to compete. In the orchestra, the ensemble of the strings is excellent, but woodwind are the real stars, their individual woody colours mingling beautifully in the introductions and obbligato accompaniments. Elsewhere, the choir excel in their hushed chorales, which are low key without being unduly restrained - simple but effective. The soloists are an ideal combination, their voices distinctive but complementing each other well. Stephen Logue comes close to stealing the show as Pilate, and the sweetness of his tone in the upper register suggests his potential is not limited to bass roles. Charles Daniels is suitably declamatory as the Evangelist; a little more tone in his recitatives might be nice, but not if it is at the expense of his exemplary diction. All round then, an impressive John Passion. In the grand scheme of things, it may seem a little unadventurous for being middle-of-the-road, interpretively speaking. But this is a performance that takes on board many lessons from the history of the period performance movement - with the notable exception of those from Joshua Rifkin. It has plenty of life and never goes to excesses of tempo or dynamics to make its point. And it doesn't force any more drama on the work than it can handle. A coherent, articulate and engaging performance that balances well the work's twin identities as narrative and contemplation. Gavin Dixon


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