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, Suzuki 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.
– BBC Music Magazine