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Bach revised his St John Passion at least four times until he arrived at his exquisite 1749 masterpiece. This recording has additional movements from his 1725 version as an appendix and although it is interesting to make comparisons, coming at the end of CD 2 it completely destroys the mood of what has gone before, as the music is far more flamboyant. This is a very good performance in which Ralf Otto moves the music along at a brisk pace, with a tendency towards the dramatic. The players in the orchestra are exceptional and Bachchor Mainz has well-trained singers who make a powerful sound, which however occasionally works to the detriment of the more poignant choruses. The soloists are skilful but overshadowed by the exceptional performance of Yorck Felix Speer as the most touching Jesus I have heard, and the outstanding tenor of Georg Poplutz as the Evangelist, whose range of flexibility is amazing: these two singers take this recording into another dimension. Very well worth buying.

SHIRLEY RATCLIFFE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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