Masaaki Suzuki and his Bach Collegium Japan made their first recording of the St Matthew Passion in March 1999. Twenty years later, in April 2019, it was time once again, as the singers and players gathered in the Concert Hall of the Saitama Arts Theater in Japan. ‘A profound joy’ is how Masaaki Suzuki describes his emotion at the opportunity to record Bach’s great fresco of Christ’s Passion for a second time. And this time, he and his ensemble have brought with them into the concert hall a profound and collective familiarity with Bach’s choral music, after having recorded more or less all of it in the meantime, including the complete sacred cantatas. For his Evangelist, SuzukiRead more has selected the young German tenor Benjamin Bruns, making his first appearance on BIS. Among the other soloists are familiar names including Carolyn Sampson, Damien Guillon, Makoto Sakurada and Christian Immler.
The lingua franca of this recording is Suzuki’s incessantly perceptive blend of directly projected imagery and inward devotion, underpinned by theatrical fervour in the narrative; one never doubts Bach or Suzuki’s belief in its importance for mankind. The musicians convey it with infectious zeal...Generic early music politesse is relegated to the shadows.
Benjamin Bruns’s Evangelist and Christian Immler’s Christus are compelling, Carolyn Sampson floats a gloriously gravity-free ‘Aus liebe’ and Immler’s burnished ‘Kom süsses Kreuz’ is eloquently embellished with Jerôme Hanta?’s soulful gamba.
Saint Matthew Passion, BWV 244by Johann Sebastian Bach Conductor:
Bach Collegium Japan,
Bach Collegium Japan Chorus
Period: Baroque Written: Circa 1727; Leipzig, Germany
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
A prayerful passionFebruary 26, 2020By Dean Frey See All My Reviews"A new decade is a time for new beginnings, so this release is well-timed: it's a second recording of the St. Matthew Passion from Masaaki Suzuki and the Bach Collegium Japan. The first version, from 2000, was generally well received. Robin Tuttle's Classical Net review pretty well sums up the critical consensus: "Suzuki takes us gently by the hand and shows us Bach not at his most imposing, but at his most humane." The new album needs only 2 CDs instead of 3, but this isn't because of any speeding up; the new recording is actually a couple of minutes longer. This time around BIS jams everything into two 80-minute plus CDs. The main difference between the two recordings is in the vocal soloists. Gerd Türk followed Suzuki's meditative approach as the Evangelist in the first version, while the equally strong Benjamin Bruns is somewhat, but not a lot, less dramatic this time around. I was especially impressed with the great Nancy Argenta in the first recording; this time around I loved Carolyn Sampson. Suzuki has doubled down in the new recording, with more even more gentle arias and prayerful chorales; the keyword here is definitely "devotional". This might seem to be a small change, but the cumulative effect is awesome, almost breathtaking. The new year is fraught with danger and portents of doom; we need the consolation of Johann Sebastian Bach more than ever. The most reliable purveyors of this are, in my opinion, Masaaki Suzuki and the musicians of Bach Collegium Japan."Report Abuse