J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

St. John Passion

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Andrew Parrott
Accompaniment/Orchestra:Taverner Players
Soloists:Rogers Covey-Crump (Evangelist), tenor
David Thomas (Jesus), bass
Tessa Bonner, Emily Van Evera, sopranos
Caroline Trevor, alto
Individual Works:St. John Passion, BWV 245
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Virgin Classics Veritas
Catalog Number:7243 5 45096 2 9
Year Released/Recorded:1991
Total Playing Time:109:22
Comments:Michael Kim said:

On first listen, this is an impeccably performed rendition of the St. John, with one to a part choral work and a fantastic orchestra. At times this seems to be lacking in passion, although it is always appealing to the ear. I will have to listen to it more before I can be sure, but definitely a superior recording.

Jeffrey Haylock said:

This is (along with Parrott's equally excellent acount of the b minor Mass) perhaps the finest Bach recording I have ever heard. Some may criticize this recording's most conspicuous feature (i.e. the relatively tiny forces), but I feel that it is Parrott's strict adherence to authenticity that is its strength. The choir is lively, responding sensitively both to Parrott's direction and to Bach's score. The soloists are generally excellent, conveying the meaning of the text as well as paying attention to musical details (articulation, intonation, ornamentation, etc.). Parrott has chosen female singers whose boy-like tone surely comes as close as is currently possible to imitating Bach's teen-age boy sopranos and altos. Such clarity of singing is rare, and is perfectly suited to the gravity inherent in Bach's religious work. The same could be said of the choir, which is made up of the soloists and, in the sopranos and altos, boys. The orchestra, too is ideal. Conforming as it does to Bach's own Draft of 1730, it provides an ideal balance of power and clarity. The presence of the harpsichord, all too rare in many recordings claiming 'authenticity' is also welcome. In sum, this recording comes about as close as is currently possible to recreating the sounds of Bach's own ideal. But beyond this, Parrott's direction is as always inspired. The drama is weel paced, the turba choruses range from charming to hair-raising, and with the small forces at his disposal, Parrott gives us a final choral of unprecedented power.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Michael Kim
  • Jeffrey Haylock
Date First Submitted:04/17/1997