JS Bach: St John Passion Essential Recordings

Essential Recordings

Wiener Sängerknaben, VCM/Harnoncourt
Warner Classics 2564696444 (two CDs)
From 1965, with Kurt Equiluz as Evangelist, still a landmark in the recovery of an 'original' sound and performing practice.

Leipzig Rad Ch, Dresden State/Schreier
Philips 4220882 (download only)
Schreier was one of the most vividly communicative Evangelists and Bachians of any generation. Late '80s digital sound complements the search for inner detail.

Taverner Consort and Players/Parrott
Virgin/Warner Classics 5620192 (two CDs)
Another landmark: the first one-voice-per-part Passion, a powerfully collective enterprise, recorded to give equal weight to solo voices and instruments.

Choir of New College, Oxford/Higginbottom
Naxos 8557296-97 (two CDs)
The best of 'English Bach' and of modern male-choir versions: the boy soloists are not outshone either by James Bowman's alto or James Gilchrist's Evangelist.

Berlin Radio Ch, BPO/Rattle
BPO BPHR140031 (two DVDs & Blu-ray)
The ritual without religion of Peter Sellars' staging, full of earnest compassion, technical confidence and artful harmonies between the text and the music.