Bach’s two passions, as well as his masses, depend
greatly on choirs. In their opening movements, the choir rings out with
energy and emotion, and it is essential that the tone be established
from the beginning. This is indeed the case in this recording, where
the choir sounds lively and energetic. Yet, it leans more toward the
treble that other choirs often do; this gives it a lighter, more airy
sound, which is not disagreeable.
The orchestra has a lush, "classical" sound
- this is not a "historically informed performance". At times,
the orchestra sounds very big, as in its accompaniment to the aria Ach,
mein Sinn, wo willit du endlich hin, a magnificently powerful aria for
tenor. The rich string sound underscores the force of the soloists voice
very well, adding great drama. In other arias, such as Zerfleiße
mein Herze, the orchestra stays in the background just enough to not
be intrusive, with subtle continuo strings and flute that accompany
Christine Schäfer with perfect balance.
Christine Schäfer is a fine soloist, who has recorded
many sacred works by Bach. Her voice here is perhaps not at its best
- a certain weakness can be heard in the aria Ich folge dir gleichfalls,
but, in general, she adds a great deal of emotion to this work.
Adalbert Kraus is an excellent Evangelist; with a wide
range of emotion, from pathos to force. His performance in the arias
is also admirable; he has excellent tone and range.
The other soloists are expressive and competent, yet
do not stand out. There are strengths and weaknesses, yet, overall,
they provide capable performances.
This is a good recording of one of Bach’s finest vocal
works. Given its budget price, it is highly recommended, although there
are better recordings of this work (such as those by Suzuki, on Bis,
and Herreweghe, on Harmonia Mundi). A worthy recording that will not
disappoint, though it tends to be lacking in emotion.