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Thread: Favourite St John Passion

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Default Favourite St John Passion

    Easter coming up so time to discuss Bach's Passions maybe. The St John might not be quite the supreme achievement of the St Matthew but it is a vitally dramatic work with an intensely moving narrative and some of Bach's greatest music. I've four versions in my collection of this work but wondered first what are your favourites?

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    Bach, J.S.: Johannes-Passion/ Schreier




    Richter at no 2

    Those two has it all for me, I am no HIP customer in general so I stay with traditional.
    Last edited by Pugg; Mar-23-2018 at 15:02.

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    I had Parrott, but it wasn't doing it for me. Gardiner seemed to reflect the sense of countdown to the cross that I think Bach was intending. I stopped looking after I found that recording.

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    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Tough to pick - there are a lot of excellent recordings, HIP and non-HIP.

    The non-HIP versions that I play most often are these:

    Willcocks:

    sjp_willcocks (2).jpg

    It's in English, and the sound is a little overreverberant, but the solo singing is terrific, particularly Helen Watts and David Ward. It's available on CD, but hard to find:

    sjp_belart.jpg

    Gonnenwein:

    sjp_gonnenwein.jpg

    One of the best modern instrument versions - just look at that solo lineup.

    Forster:

    sjp_forster.jpg

    Hard to pass up a chance to hear Wunderlich's Evangelist, along with Grummer and Ludwig.

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    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    For HIP, there are lots of excellent choices (assuming that one wants HIP).

    Rene Jacobs:

    sjp_jacobs.jpg

    A much lesser-known recording is Kenneth Slowik's, on the Smithsonian label:

    sjp_slowik.jpg sjp_slowik2.jpg

    A superb performance, which includes arias and choruses from the 1725 version (it's a shame that the tenor aria "Zerschmettert Mich" isn't often recorded, and certainly not as well as Tony Boutte sings it here). Excellent notes, written by Slowik. This one can be had on Amazon Marketplace for very few $$$.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Just taking the versions I have I think the Jacob's comes out on top as a highly dramatic performance with excellent soloists. It also includes some alternatives from the first version as an appendix.

    Suzuki is good in a very devotional way.

    Gardiner I always find a little cold in Bach but I know many will disagree. It is superbly sung of course.

    Bruggen is really interesting. Live performance with more of orchestra than one usually hears. Some interesting points he makes such as the first entry of 'Herr' is almost whispered by the choir. I really enjoyed this even though not my first choice

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    What does everyone make of Harnoncourt's second (1993) recording?



    It's the only version I have at the moment, so nothing to compare it to.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    There are so many excellent recordings to choose from, but I'm very fond of Peter Dijkstra's 2016 recording with the Concerto Köln and the Bavarian Radio Choir - a remarkably vivid performance in excellent sound.

    I'd also recommend John Butt's recording with his Dunedin Consort, in which he tries to recreate what the original performance might have been like. He intersperses the Passion with the occasional congregational hymn and organ solo, with the first chorus "Herr, unser Herrscher" made - if possible! - even more dramatic by preceding it with a magnificent Buxtehude organ prelude. Thrilling stuff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reichstag aus LICHT View Post
    I'd also recommend John Butt's recording with his Dunedin Consort, in which he tries to recreate what the original performance might have been like. He intersperses the Passion with the occasional congregational hymn and organ solo, with the first chorus "Herr, unser Herrscher" made - if possible! - even more dramatic by preceding it with a magnificent Buxtehude organ prelude. Thrilling stuff.
    John Butt's recording is among my favourite OVPP performances and I will be back to this recording soon. I have been listening to samples of Herreweghe's recording in Harmonia Mundi that is 1725 version which does not contain Herr, unser Herrscher opening choir:



    Do you know if Herreweghe has recorded one of the other versions: 1724 or 1749?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JSBach85 View Post
    Do you know if Herreweghe has recorded one of the other versions: 1724 or 1749?
    Yes, he has. His 1989 recording includes the "Herr, unser Herrscher" chorus. Like most of his Bach - whether the passions or the cantatas - both Herreweghe recordings of the Johannes-Passion are excellent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WildThing View Post
    What does everyone make of Harnoncourt's second (1993) recording?



    It's the only version I have at the moment, so nothing to compare it to.
    It's one of my best recordings, I purchased it after the first Harnoncourt recording from 60s that I found to be very weak in conducting. This one is very well balanced despite doesn't have an excellent vocal cast (I'd rather go with Herreweghe, Suzuki, Pierlot in this aspect) but conducting is very solid and has good contrast.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reichstag aus LICHT View Post
    Yes, he has. His 1989 recording includes the "Herr, unser Herrscher" chorus. Like most of his Bach - whether the passions or the cantatas - both Herreweghe recordings of the Johannes-Passion are excellent.
    Could be this recording?



    With Howard Crook and Peter Kooy I can't go wrong. It's available at amazon.de at budget price so I think I will get it. Thank you.
    Last edited by JSBach85; Mar-31-2018 at 09:40.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JSBach85 View Post
    Could be this recording?

    That's the one! If you can get it at budget price, it's even more of a bargain

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    I'm very happy with the Suzuki.
    I am a fan of his Bach.
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    I've four versions in my collection of this work but wondered first what are your favourites?
    Those are my recordings:

    Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra - Ton Koopman (Erato, 1st recording)
    Concentus Musicus Wien - Nikolaus Harnoncourt (Teldec, 3rd recording)
    Bach Collegium Japan - Masaaki Suzuki (BIS)
    Taverner Consort & Players - Andrew Parrott (Virgin 2x1)
    The Netherlands Bach Society - Jos van Veldhoven (Channel Classics)
    Ricercar Consort - Philippe Pierlot (Mirare)
    Cantus Cölln - Konrad Junghänel (Accent)
    Dunedin Consort & Players - John Butt (Linn Records)
    English Baroque Soloists - John Eliot Gardiner (1st recording Archiv Produktion)
    Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment - Stephen Layton (Hyperion records)
    La Chapelle Rhenane - Benoit Haller (Zig-Zag Territoires)

    Ordered today: Orchestre de la Chapelle Royale Paris - Philippe Herreweghe (1st recording Harmonia Mundi, 1724 version)

    I am happy with all of recordings but my favourites are: Suzuki, Veldhoven, Pierlot, Junghänel. I am also interested in Herreweghe's 1725 version (Harmonia Mundi) and Kuijken (Challenge Classics).

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