John Passion Live - Dunedin Consort - Financial Times
The performance of Bach’s St John Passion in the evening brought John Butt and his Dunedin Consort to the BBC Proms for the first time. That guaranteed bracing music-making and new ideas. Various people have tried widening the scope of the Passion to introduce other elements that might have been heard in Bach’s time (not the sermon, thankfully, though one recent performance did have readings from T.S. Eliot). Butt brought in chorale preludes, played with full Victorian splendour by Stephen Farr on the RAH’s giant organ, a motet by Jacobus Handl, and a sung blessing. The Bach itself, sung in German, was given a vital performance, full of immediacy as if the Crucifixion had happened yesterday and this was urgent news. Half a millennium on, there is life in the Reformation yet.