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There is a temptation to commend this DVD simply for the exemplary performance of Mark Padmore in the role of Evangelist, something which he has made his own internationally. While the St Matthew Passion relies less on drama and chronology and much more on reflection than the John, the part of Evangelist is still pivotal. Padmore achieves constant eye contact with the audience every time he delivers his recitatives. The psychological tension with which he imbues the commentary is there all along, so when this is combined with impeccably judged timing and the occasional dramatic pause, the listener cannot fail to be drawn into the emotional subtext of the narrative.

Ivan Fischer stands back to let the artists make their own music; to his credit, he doesn’t attempt to conduct at all during the recitatives. Although an orchestra of modern instruments, the Concertgebouw plays in an historically informed style, creating an environment where stylistic purists and novices can meet on common ground. Soloists are rewarding throughout, and individual mention must go to mezzo-soprano Ingeborg Danz for her consistency of line and articulation, communicating the text with perfection. Tempi in the arias are uncontroversial, occasionally erring on the quicker, lighter side, in the best way. Where Bach’s boy sopranos added to the two separate choruses, here they are represented by the mixed line of the Netherlands National Children’s Choir; their contribution (singing from memory) is not as audible on this recording as it could be.

As live recordings go, this is a success. Yet I am tempted to recommend that, after an initial look at the forces involved, the viewer revert to headphones alone – and perhaps a score – the better to enjoy the well-balanced audio without the need to stare at a screen.

MATTHEW POWER Read the full review on Agora Classica

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