The Passion is a dramatic story which needs dramatic telling. In Ian Bostridge, a more moving and intense Evangelist would be hard to find. His performance continually turned up the heat, catching the urgency, the tragedy, always alert in even so few words as "Jesus antwortete". In the confrontation with the crowd over Barabas, Bostridge's contained anger in a section of recitative with a lengthy chromatically embellished scale made me long for him to escape into the greater length of an aria; his voice is so beautiful, so well focused and so well used.
If Thomas Guthrie and Gavin Carr, as Christ and Pilate respectively, were both gravelly and lacking in character, the arias that were assigned to anonymous characters fared better. Ruth Holton's bell-like "Ich folge dir" brought sunny singing to a sunny afternoon whereas "Zeerfliesse, mein Herze', the last substantial aria of the piece, finally brought some deeply felt passion in superb singing. Joseph Cornwell's "Ach, mein Sinn" picked up the urgency of calamity following Peter's denial, but in a tempo so fast that any passionate contemplation was lost in a dash for dotted rhythms, although the succeeding calm of the chorale marvellously pointed Bach's dramatic use of these simple hymns. Colin Campbell's bass aria "Eilt, ihr angefochtnen Seelen" with Chorus intervention of "wohin?" was deftly managed, but it was a pity that Catherine Denley's moving "Es ist vollbracht!" was hobbled by too careful, albeit impressively accurate, viola da gamba obbligato.
ANNETTE MORREAUReuse content