BACH St. John Passion


Chosen as #1 in the Sunday Times’ survey of Best CD Recordings of the St. John Passion (London, March 2020)

Nicholas Phan, Evangelist
Jesse Blumberg, Jesus
Jeffrey Strauss, Pilate
Amanda Forsythe | Terry Wey | Christian Immler

Recording from the dramatic production presented in Cleveland and New York, March 2016. Booklet includes extensive photos and URL link to video.

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SKU: AV2369 (2CDs) Category:

“This admirable St John Passion has dramatic tautness tempered by musical finesse nurtured by Sorrell. Instrumental playing of elegant refinement, polished choral singing, and communicative delivery of the text…. Chorales convey textural clarity and poeticism… sculpted with deft harmonic shapeliness. Nicholas Phan’s ardent Evangelist paints with a breadth of vocal colours his descriptions of Peter’s bitter weeping and mortification. Terry Wey’s… ‘Es ist vollbracht’ has beguiling intimacy. Amanda Forsythe is technically sure and vocally charming in both of her arias. Sorrell’s keen attention to detail ensures that this recording hits the sweet spot time and again.”
–GRAMOPHONE [read the full review]

“Sorrell’s direction produces a lively account… the singing is the chief glory. Nicholas Phan is a personable Evangelist who also negotiates the jagged perils of ‘Ach, mein Sinn’ with no nonsense, while Jesse Blumberg’s Jesus is quietly authoritative. Soprano Amanda Forsythe and baritone Christian Immler acquit themselves with distinction in the arias, and the 20-plus chorus is impeccably disciplined and incisive.
– BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE [read the full review]

“Totally at one with the concept… the sense of drama is there from the outset with bristling tension. The strings seem to swirl around the narrative…. very impressive throughout. Jeannette Sorrell, the presiding genius behind the ensemble and the project… paces it beautifully.
– MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL [read full review]

Splendid… and unlike any other performance of the work. The soloists enter entirely into the spirit of the performance. Sample the scene with Pilate’s interrogation for an impression of the thorough realization of this figure by baritone Jeffrey Strauss. This masterwork is simply being looked at through a wholly new lens. A genuinely fresh Bach recording, and an excellent choice for those interested in this consistently innovative American ensemble.”
– ALLMUSIC.COM [read the full review]

“First rate, a good choice… A deeply considered account, rendered with consummate skill and artistry…”
– NEW YORK TIMES [read the full review]

“Nicholas Phan is a gritty, direct narrator on the fine set from Apollo’s Fire, with a choir of 23 and uniformly excellent aria soloists in Amanda Forsythe, Terry Wey and Christian Immler.”
– THE SUNDAY TIMES (London) [read the full review]

Reviews of the Live Production (March 2016)

A resplendent performance… The production belonged entirely to Ms. Sorrell, who devised the concept, which she called ‘a dramatic presentation…’ Jesse Blumberg sang the role [of Jesus] handsomely and acted vividly. Nicholas Phan sang the Evangelist beautifully, with unusual animation and dramatic vehemence. Jeffrey Strauss turned Pilate into a living, breathing figure for a change. The other vocal soloists — Amanda Forsythe, soprano; Terry Wey, countertenor; and Christian Immler, baritone — were outstanding. The orchestra was also excellent… The magnificent chorus sang… to breathtaking effect… allowing Ms. Sorrell some exquisite moments.”
– NEW YORK TIMES [read the full review]

Evokes deep spirituality while teeming with theatricality. Sorrell ensured that there was no lack of drama. A superlative performance.”
– MUSICAL AMERICA [read the full review]

Lively and gripping… Sorrell dispatched chorus members to the aisles during the turbulent crowd scenes, surrounding the audience and virtually making them part of the seething mob. The soloists who portrayed Jesus, Simon Peter, and Pilate had memorized their parts and physically confronted one another. So did the chorus. The dramatic success of the performance hinged on Sorrell’s skillful, often brisk pacing of the music and Nicholas Phan’s superb storytelling as the Evangelist. Apollo’s Singers were riveting… Sorrell dictated a variety of nuances that the chorus delivered with fine attention to detail and unflaggingly crisp diction. This absorbing performance was nearly flawless.
– CLASSICAL VOICE NORTH AMERICA [read the full review]

“The U.S.A.’s hottest baroque band.” –CLASSICAL MUSIC MAGAZINE (UK)

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