Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
Double CD box contains a slipcase with the two CD’s and a 40 page booklet with complete libretto, bio’s, artist photo’s and liner notes.
"A richly nuanced, emotionally charged interpretation... Classic FM An intimate religious intensity...strongly recommended." - International Record Review
"As with the work itself, there's no recording of Bach's St. John Passion that stands as preeminent and certainly none that can claim to be definitive. But, if you accept Jos van Veldhoven's decisions regarding certain key aspects of this performance--including the reconstruction of some parts--this one comes very close.
Aside from the various versions of the score that Bach himself created, performances are widely varied in terms of instrumentation (numbers and types of instruments and how they are used) and vocal forces (most significantly, how many singers to a part). Here, Veldhoven has chosen to attempt to reconstruct and perform the St. John in a version as close as possible to what was heard at the work's premiere in 1724. You can read the rationale for and details of this effort in the excellent liner notes, but suffice it to say that some guesses and reconstructive decisions had to be made in several cases, both in vocal and orchestral parts. Most shocking to listeners familiar with this work is the total absence of flutes, which opens up the orchestral sound to a new and very different world of color.
The fact that Veldhoven also employs only six strings, two oboes, organ, theorbo, and harpsichord for his orchestra makes a surprisingly rich-toned yet keenly detailed ensemble. This is well-balanced against his correspondingly minimal vocal forces--a set of six soloists fortified where necessary and appropriate with a quartet of "ripienists". While I've never been a fan of this one- or two-to-a-part concept--it usually sounds thin, anemic, and pathetically underpowered, especially in the major choruses--here I only occasionally wished for the fuller, rounder body that only additional voices can supply. In a word, I was surprised at how solid and strong the balances are and how vibrant the sound--certainly this is the best-sounding St. John available on disc, and I noticed that on my system at least, it blossomed even more fully by turning the volume up just a couple of notches from its usual position.
The vocal performances are first-rate, with special mention to Evangelist Gerd Türk and tenor Charles Daniels. Likewise, the instrumental players are technically assured and always sensitive to text and singer, and invariably tasteful in solo passages and recitatives. It's nice to hear the theorbo so clearly and effectively punctuating the recits. My only complaint regarding the performers is alto Peter de Groot, whose hooty quality is more or less apparent depending on register and dynamic level. Happily, his very important dramatic moment--the aria "Es ist vollbracht!" (It is fulfilled)--is exceptionally lovely (except for the rapid passages near the end), and here the continuo work also is exemplary. Veldhoven's leadership is sure and finely articulated, with well-considered tempos and a natural flow to lines and phrases."
-- David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
Reviewing original release Channel Classics 22005
Works on This Recording
Saint John Passion, BWV 245 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Bas Ramselaar (Bass),
Charles Daniels (Tenor),
Peter de Groot (Countertenor),
Caroline Stam (Soprano),
Stephan MacLeod (Bass),
Gerd Türk (Tenor)
Jos van Veldhoven
Netherlands Bach Society
Written: 1724; Leipzig, Germany
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