BBC Singers and St James' Baroque: Mendelssohn edition of Bach Matthäus-Passion conducted by Peter Dijkstra
Some weeks before the usual Easter performances of Bach passions we had an interesting proposal from the BBC Signers: the UK premiere of Mendelssohn edition of Bach Matthäus-Passion.
Coming from a choir and directed by a choral conductor the stress of this performance was more in the choral side than in the orchestral one, which was relegated to the circumstantial band St. James’ Baroque. This was a pity because the biggest differences with the original version, other than cuts, were on the orchestral side, with some bass line significant changes.
Anyway this version was closer to a pure baroque performance rather than a romantic one in the style of those by Klemplerer or Karajan despite being the edition of a young romantic composer.
You only get a perfect Matthäus-Passion performance if you have a perfect choir. Here the BBC singers prepared by Peter Dijkstra were close to it. But before that you need to get a good performance and that is much responsibility of the evangelist. Here Nicholas Mulroy started cold, maybe a little bit insecure, but as the performance went on he warmed up an achieved a very dramatic performance, really trustworthy.
Rest of the soloist were members of the choir, ranged from good to not so good.
At the end the result was a little bit unbalanced between the arias and the choral numbers. Anyway a very interesting evening.