Bach, J S: St John Passion, BWV245

Naxos: 8557296-97

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Bach, J S: St John Passion, BWV245


Gramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2003



Catalogue No:




Release date:

9th April 2003




1 hour 49 minutes


CD (download also available)
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Bach, J S: St John Passion, BWV245

Joe Littlewood (treble), James Bowman (alto), James Gilchrist (Evangelist), Matthew Beale (tenor), Eamonn Dougan (Pilate), Colin Baldy (bass)

Choir of New College Oxford & Collegium Novum, Edward Higginbottom

CD - 2 discs


(also available to download from $14.00)

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Johann Sebastian Bach: St. John Passion, BWV 245

Herr, unser Herrscher

Jesus ging mit seinen Jungern

O gross Lieb, o Lieb ohn alle Masse

Auf dass das Wort erfullet wurde

Dein Will gescheh, Herr Gott, zugleich

Die Schar aber und der Oberhauptmann

Von den Strikken meiner Sunden

Simon Petrus aber folgete Jesu nach

Ich folge dir gleichfalls

Derselbige Junger war dem Hohenpriester bekannt

Wer hat dich so geschlagen

Und Hannas sandte ihn gebunden

Ach, mein Sinn, wo willt du endlich hin

Petrus, der nicht denkt zuruck

Christus, der uns selig macht

Da fuhreten sie Jesum von Kaipha

Ach, grosser Konig, gross zu allen Zeiten

Da sprach Pilatus zu ihm: So bist du dennoch ein Konig?

Betrachte, meine Seel

Erwage, wie sein blutgefarbter Rukken

Und die Kriegsknechte flochten eine Krone

Durch dein Gefangnis, Gottes Sohn

Die Jüden aber schrieen und sprachen

Eilt, ihr angefochtnen Seelen

Allda kreuzigten sie ihn

In meines Herzens Grunde

Die Kriegsknechte aber, da sie Jesum gekreuziget hatten

Auf dass erfullet wurde die Schrift

Er nahm alles wohl in acht

Und von Stund an nahm sie der Junger zu sich

Es ist vollbracht

Und neiget das Haupt und verschied

Mein teurer Heiland, lass dich fragen

Und siehe da, der Vorhang im Tempel zerriss

Mein Herz, indem die ganze Welt

Zerfliesse, mein Herze

Die Juden aber, dieweil es der Rusttag war

O hilf, Christe, Gottes Sohn

Darnach bat Pilatum Joseph von Arimathia

Ruht wohl, ihr heiligen Gebeine

Ach Herr, lass dein lieb Engelein

Gramophone Classical Music Guide


“When you hear the ominous first chorus of Bach's St John Passion sung and played like this, liturgical ritual and visceral human drama make for an unusually intense experience. The bass line pulsates, the boys articulate the words with supreme clarity and the steady speed provides the movement with just the right length – a consideration too often neglected.
Recorded in New College, Oxford, the resident choristers, choral scholars and lay clerks appear to be entirely at ease with the special juxtaposition of quicksilver action and warm reflection which Bach demands in his choruses and chorales.
Edward Higginbottom delivers a palpable sense of narrative, unfussy, as if habit lies at the root of its being. Just listen to the searing choral chromaticisms as Christ is brought before Caiaphas, the startlingly urgent declamations as the crowd bays for blood or the distraught tenderness of James Bowman in 'Es ist vollbracht'.
The Evangelist is the established tenor James Gilchrist, whose alert and straightforward singing makes his performance wholly believable.
Of the current generation of choristers, Joe Littlewood reminds us that English choirboys can sing German music beautifully and convey the emotional essence of the text with maturity and purpose. His 'Ich folge' is a delight.
There's the odd strain in Matthew Beale's testing tenor arias but a pleasing timbre, as indeed there is in John Bernays' proud but unblustering Christus. If there's a general tendency, it's to allow the music to speak in its own time within a relaxed beat. The rest is instinct, experience and letting what will be, be. In such light comes this refreshing and captivating new interpretation.”

Penguin Guide



“an outstanding period performance which can stand comparison with any in the catalogue...The choir itself is fresh and bright, singing incisively, with the crowd choruses vividly adding to the drama...Gilchrist is a superb Evangelist, fluent and expressive, and the main quartet of soloists makes a sensitive team.”

Gramophone Magazine

““Edward Higginbottom is one of those rare musicians who can balance projects of genuine popular appeal with the key masterpieces of the choral repertoire. With this Naxos set of the St John Passion he could potentially reach his largest audience yet… especially with the glorious singing of the now world- renowned Choir of New College, Oxford.”

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