Werner Güra Evangelist
Johannes Weisser Christus
Sunhae Im, Christina Roterberg sopranos
Bernarda Fink, Marie-Claude Chappuis altos
Topi Lehtipuu, Fabio Trümpy tenors
Konstantin Wolff, Artuu Kataja basses
Staats- und Domchor Berlin, RIAS Kammerchor & Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, René Jacobs
2 HYBRID SACDs + DVD
It has haunted René Jacobs since childhood: first as a boy soprano in Ghent, then as a countertenor, he has constantly frequented the supreme masterpiece that is the 'St Matthew Passion'. Jacobs uses the layout of the Good Friday Vesper service from Bach's time, with choirs front and back, rather than side-by-side. He also gives us extra soloists to complete the bi-choral effect. For Bach, the two halves were 28 metres apart. At that distance, coordination difficulties begin to appear between the speed of light, and the speed of sound, and we cannot determine how Bach dealt with this problem. However the wonders of SACD multichannel surround sound can at last give an impression of what Bach intended for St Thomas’ Church in Leipzig.
As ever, harmonia mundi's production values are such that we are given several essays on the concept of the layout in Bach's time, reflections on the new recording by René Jacobs, full texts and biographies in a 176 page booklet, with sumptuous packaging. This is, somewhat surprisingly, René Jacobs' first recording of 'St Matthew'.
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18th October 2013
“the novelty lies in Jacobs’ games with acoustics and space in his studio location in Berlin...this spatial separation keeps you listening intently and listening afresh. Jacobs’s Passion is intimate, dramatic, conducted with audible love...Güra’s Evangelist makes a compelling guide; Fink is most eloquent, with Johannes Weiss solid as Jesus”