Gramophone Magazine March 2020 Editor's Choice
BBC Music Magazine May 2020 Choral & Song Choice
BBC Radio 3 Record Review 22nd February 2020 Record of the Week
Bach’s St John Passion, with its famous opening chorus traversed by shadows and light, is a powerful musical and spiritual reflection. Dramatic, grandiose, complex, resolutely theatrical: there has been no lack of superlatives to describe this supreme masterpiece of western music. Philippe Herreweghe and Collegium Vocale Gent present an accomplished reading that reflects their knowledge of the composer, based on extensive research and deepened by countless concerts. Soloists Krešimir Straanac and Maximilian Schmitt demonstrate the breadth of their talents in the roles of Jesus and the Evangelist.
Herreweghe’s unswerving focus is evident from the opening chorus, whose elemental summons is exactingly calibrated, dark-grained and resolute…Schmitt’s Evangelist narrates with exemplary pacing and dramatic involvement…Herreweghe’s is an ensemble triumph, a symbiotic entwining of voice and instruments that brings about repeated moments of wonder. BBC *****
Contributing to the discerning unity of vision and character of this performance is how the instruments sit embedded at the heart of the vocal sound…This is indeed one of the most thoughtful, affecting and powerful St John Passions in recent years. It reveals the mature mastery of Herreweghe at his most perspicacious and consistent, with Collegium Vocale Gent paving the way with gold. Gramophone