It has haunted René Jacobs since childhood: first as a boy soprano in Ghent, then as a countertenor, he has constantly frequented the supreme masterpiece that is the ‘St Matthew Passion’. Jacobs uses the layout of the Good Friday Vesper service from Bach’s time, with choirs front and back, rather than side-by-side. He also gives us extra soloists to complete the bi-choral effect. For Bach, the two halves were 28 metres apart. At that distance, coordination difficulties begin to appear between the speed of light, and the speed of sound, and we cannot determine how Bach dealt with this problem.
However the wonders of SACD multichannel surround sound can at last give an impression of what Bach intended for St Thomas’ Church in Leipzig.
As ever, harmonia mundi’s production values are such that we are given several essays on the concept of the layout in Bach’s time, reflections on the new recording by René Jacobs, full texts and biographies in a 176 page booklet, with sumptuous packaging. This is, somewhat surprisingly, René Jacobs’ first recording of ‘St Matthew’.
Pre-order at a special price of just £21.95 (Standard price £24.25) as part of the new Rene Jacobs special offer
BACH St Matthew Passion. Werner Gura, Johannes Weisser, Sunhae Im, Bernarda Fink, Topi Lehtipuu, Konstantin Wolff, RIAS Kammerchor, Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin / Rene Jacobs. Harmonia Mundi 2 SACD & DVD