When is a budget product
a bargain?? In the world of CDs this
is relatively easy to ascertain, but
in the world of DVD there are so few
cheap products that the position is
not so clear. This issue can be purchased
for around £8.00 which, in DVD classical
music terms, is a real saving on the
full price issues.
There are no notes,
no supporting information, merely the
text in German, and this in itself would
not be a major problem for me, as I
have other documentation available for
this masterpiece. I suspect that, for
the same reason, most collectors may
not find this a problem.
What I cannot abide
however is that this performance is
severely cut (it runs for 165 minutes
as compared with about 200 minutes for
other versions). Thus you are already
short-changed with the music. The performance
would seem to be from the same stable
as Brilliant Classics’ CD Bach Edition,
also available at budget price on CD.
However I have not heard this to ascertain
whether the cuts are the same.
The conducting style
of Stephen Cleobury is most distracting.
Throughout the performance he seems
to be pivoting from the waist, and both
hands are mirror images of each other.
So are there any good
things about this issue? Well, ‘yes’.
The visual images are first class given
the location of the performance. Given
the outline of heads in the first rows
in front of the orchestra, I am lead
to believe that this performance was
recorded at a live event, although there
is no audio evidence of an audience.
Also, the orchestral
performance from the Brandenburg Consort
(on period instruments) is first class
and there are absolutely no qualms about
this. The choral singing is also well
up to King’s standard with their choir
shouldering most of the work (Jesus
College Choir is there for the soprano
ripieno parts only). However once we
reach the Chorale "Surely, surely
this was the son of God" Cleobury’s
perfunctory conducting makes this usually
most moving of passages mundane; a great
We have an excellent
Evangelist in Rogers Covey-Crump, but
Michael George, as Jesus, is often wayward
in both diction and pitch. The remainder
of the soloists are excellent; particular
mention for Emma Kirkby for her wonderful
One final moan. My
copy of the DVD stopped playing at item
27 and no juggling with the advance
button would fix it – check before you
buy, if you must.