J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings


Main Performer
or Conductor:
Masaaki Suzuki
Accompaniment/Orchestra:Bach Collegium Japan
Soloists:Ingrid Schmith³sen, soprano
Yoshikazu Mera, counter-tenor
Gerd T³rk, tenor (Evangelist and tenor arias)
Makoto Sakurada, tenor (Servant and tenor arias)
Yoshie Hida, soprano (Maid)
Chiyuki Urano, bass (Christ)
Peter Kooij, bass (Peter, Pilate, bass arias)
Individual Works:Johannespassion (St. John Passion), BWV 245 (Version IV, 1749).
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:BIS
Catalog Number:BIS-CD-921/922
Year Released/Recorded:1999
Total Playing Time:126'15
Comments:Siu-Wai NG said:

Best ever - everything is just right. After the huge success of the group in their recordings of Bach's Cantatas, this new release definitely lives up to expectation. Suzuki has it just at the right pace. The soloists are outstanding, the sound very pure. One can easily be overwhelmed by the deep feelings and emotions expressed in the recording!

James Shaerf said:

It is difficult to believe that an orchestra and choir from Japan, a country which does not have a strong tradition in baroque literature, could pull of the Passion of St. John. But Masaaki Suzuki's efforts are absolutely resplendent. Being a harpsichordist and an organist himself, Suzuki has a natural feel for phrasing which is well-pronounced in his recording. Every chorale is emotional and yet still clean-cut in texture. Every recitative is emotional and free and yet still of great structural integrity. The choruses shine; they are absolutely perfect in every way: tempi, intonation, emotion and of course authenticity are all there. The soloists are all of world-class standard, notably the Japanese counter-tenor Mera who sings in German as if he were a native.
Most of all, the sound is incredibly clean. The instrumentation is always pure and never too thick and Suzuki's treatment of the chamber organ (especially in the chorales) is highly befitting. In short, this recording must go down in the annals of recording history as an apotheosis of a performance of this work.

Michael Pak said:

Could have been a definitive performace. The role of Jesus, IMHO, is not up to the standards of the other elements of this superb recording. Chiyuki Urano is not well suited for the job... Otherwise a trully excellent recording...

Michael Claxton said:

After the turgid and unfathomably boring interpretations of my youth, this recording opened my eyes, and ears. Clear in every respect and accessible. Now a close second to the St Matthew, after years of being a question mark, just as the Christmas Oratorios still are!
Thank you sensei!

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Siu-Wai NG
  • James Shaerf
  • Michael Pak
  • Michael Claxton
Date First Submitted:03/20/1999