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Bach: John Passion / Butt, Dunedin Consort

Bach,J.s. / Dunedin Consort / Butt
Release Date: 03/26/2013 
Label:  Linn Records   Catalog #: 419   
Composer:  Johann Sebastian BachDietrich BuxtehudeJacob HandlJohann Hermann Schein
Performer:  John ButtJoanne LunnNicholas MulroyMatthew Brook,   ... 
Conductor:  John Butt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dunedin Consort
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 18 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Gramophone Editor's Choice – Recording of the Month

Naturalness and emotional honesty are what emerge from this tight-knit and perfectly paced ensemble Passion, in which Bach's complex succession of recitatives, arias, choruses, and chorales has seldom sounded so convincingly of a piece.


– Gramophone [3/2013]

***** A dramatic, exactingly nuanced, profoundly considered reading. Butt's contextualizing demands to be heard: it's nothing short of a revelation.

– BBC Music Magazine, April 2013 Disc of the Month

This recording of Bach's John Passion gives listeners a refreshing outlook, shining a new light into one of the best known pieces of the choral repertoire. John
Read more Butt recreates the Good Friday Vesper liturgy of a passion performance during Bach's time at Leipzig; in addition to the Dunedin Consort performance of Bach's composition, this recording features music from an original Leipzig hymn book with works by Jacob Händl, J. H. Schein and J Crüger performed by a congregational choir and the University of Glasgow Chapel Choir. John Butt takes centre stage to perform organ chorale preludes by Bach and Schütz on the Collins organ at Greyfriar's Kirk in Edinburgh, where the recording took place.

R E V I E W:

John Butt freely admits that his new recording of the St John Passion is a reconstruction of a performance that never took place. It's a leap of imaginative faith; an ideal. Yet how illuminating such leaps can prove. Those outside the Lutheran tradition so often come to the Bach Passions as it they were some sort of altarpiece, deprived of their sacred surroundings and hung in a gallery to be revered as a great work of art. By putting the St John Passion in a liturgical context - the first time this has been done on disc - Butt reminds us that it was part of a living act of worship, and just how potently private and public devotion intersect: emotive solo arias interact within the bigger picture of gravelly unaccompanied congregational signing, chant and organ chorale preluding. In a concert performance the final chorale usually dissolves into silence before applause. Here it seamlessly surrenders to a tender funeral motet by Jacob Handl Gallus which, far from dissipating the moment, intensifies it - and bridges the transition from Bach into the closing solemnities. Similarly, at the start the maelstrom of the opening chorus emerges out of a Buxtehude organ prelude. It's thrilling. And for those with stamina seeking added ‘authenticity', it's possible to download from the Linn Records website a lengthy sermon such as anchored the Vespers service.

If course all this would be purely academic if the performance didn't match the commitment of Butt's vision. But those already familiar with the Dunedin's St Matthew Passion will know what to expect. With a total of ten voices (including soloists), Butt and his forces yield a dramatic, exactingly nuanced, profoundly considered reading, compelling in its integrity and text-driven immediacy. The chorus - eight voices at full stretch - conjure up real venom, and the scene as los are cast for Christ's garment is dispatched with gurgling frenzy. Tenor Nicholas Mulroy's firmly- contoured Evangelist balances the musical and narrative imperatives of the recitatives with judicious sensitivity, and bass-baritone Matthew Brook's Christus stands up to the crowd with a dignified yet firm resolve and hallowed charisma. He also shapes ‘Mein teurer Heiland' with easeful repose. Clare Wilkinson's ‘Von den Stricken' might sound a touch disengaged, but her ‘Esist Vollbracht' is enthralling. Joanne Lunn is achingly poignant in ‘Zerfliesse, mein Herze'. Butt's contextualising demands to be heard: it's nothing short of a revelation.

-- Rebecca Franks, BBC Music Magazine
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Works on This Recording

1.
Orgelbüchlein: Da Jesus an dem Kreuze stund', BWV 621 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  John Butt (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1710; Weimar, Germany 
2.
Da Jesus an dem Kreuze stund by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Joanne Lunn (Soprano), Nicholas Mulroy (Tenor), Matthew Brook (Bass),
Clare Wilkinson (Mezzo Soprano), Robert Davies (Spoken Vocals), John Butt (Harpsichord & Organ)
Conductor:  John Butt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dunedin Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1703; Arnstadt, Germany 
3.
Praeludium for Keyboard in F sharp minor, BuxWV 146 by Dietrich Buxtehude
Performer:  John Butt (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
4.
Saint John Passion, BWV 245 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Joanne Lunn (Soprano), Nicholas Mulroy (Tenor), Matthew Brook (Bass),
Clare Wilkinson (Mezzo Soprano), Robert Davies (Spoken Vocals), John Butt (Harpsichord & Organ)
Conductor:  John Butt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dunedin Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1724; Leipzig, Germany 
5.
Orgelbüchlein: O Lamm Gottes unschuldig, BWV 618 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  John Butt (Organ)
6.
O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Joanne Lunn (Soprano), Nicholas Mulroy (Tenor), Matthew Brook (Bass),
Clare Wilkinson (Mezzo Soprano), Robert Davies (Spoken Vocals), John Butt (Harpsichord & Organ)
Conductor:  John Butt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dunedin Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; Weimar, Germany 
7.
Orgelbüchlein: Christus, der uns selig macht, BWV 620 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  John Butt (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1714-1715; Weimar, Germany 
8.
Ecce quomodo moritur iustus by Jacob Handl
Performer:  Joanne Lunn (Soprano), Nicholas Mulroy (Tenor), Matthew Brook (Bass),
Clare Wilkinson (Mezzo Soprano), Robert Davies (Spoken Vocals), John Butt (Harpsichord & Organ)
Conductor:  John Butt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dunedin Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; Austria 
9.
Gott, sei mir gnädig by Johann Hermann Schein
Performer:  Joanne Lunn (Soprano), Nicholas Mulroy (Tenor), Matthew Brook (Bass),
Clare Wilkinson (Mezzo Soprano), Robert Davies (Spoken Vocals), John Butt (Harpsichord & Organ)
Conductor:  John Butt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dunedin Consort
10.
Nun danket alle Gott, BWV 657 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  John Butt (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1723; ?Weimar, Germany 
11.
Nun danket alle Gott by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Joanne Lunn (Soprano), Nicholas Mulroy (Tenor), Matthew Brook (Bass),
Clare Wilkinson (Mezzo Soprano), Robert Davies (Spoken Vocals), John Butt (Harpsichord & Organ)
Conductor:  John Butt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dunedin Consort
Period: Baroque 

Featured Sound Samples

St. John Passion (Bach): Aria: "Ich folge dir gleichfalls mit freudigen Schritten"
St. John Passion (Bach): Chorus: "Wäre dieser nicht ein Übeltäter"
St. John Passion (Bach): Chorale: "Ach Herr, lass dein lieb Engelein"

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