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This is a very clean, clear, straightforward account of the St John Passion in Bach’s final version of 1749. That means it is basically the version we are most familiar with; but in three cases – the soprano aria with two flutes (no.9), the bass arioso (no.19) and the tenor aria (no.20) – different texts are employed to the same music, and there is some slightly modified instrumentation. This probably only matters to the most ardent Bachian, but the changes of instrumentation, notably the introduction of a bassono grosso (a baroque contrabassoon), do make a difference. With excellent soloists, a fine small choir and period ensemble, Rademann directs a typically secure and enjoyable account, recorded after a performance at the 2019 Ansbach Bach Festival. The only real drawback is that occasionally the drama of Bach’s structure fails to move quickly enough between numbers.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica


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