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CD Review

Johann Sebastian Bach

St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244

  • Grace Davidson
  • Mark Chambers
  • Jeremy Budd
  • Eamonn Dougan
  • Greg Skidmore
Ex Cathedra Choir
Baroque Orchestra/Jeffrey Skidmore
Orchid Classics ORC100007 148m DDD

This is the third release which I have had the opportunity to review from Orchid Classics and I can safely say that I am consistently bowled over by the excellent sound quality and the equal finesse of the interpretations.

Bach's St. Matthew Passion is surely a hugely towering work for anyone attempting it but the Ex Cathedra team under the capable hands of Jeffrey Skidmore come out with flying colours. Being in English, this is an interesting comparison to the Kathleen Ferrier version conducted by Louis Jacques which was available on Dutton a decade ago, obviously Skidmore has much more advanced sound at his disposal but the Ferrier version still remains top notch in every respect.

The soloists are of the very highest quality here with Davidson and Chambers consistently reaching the highest of standards especially in the myriad arias and ensembles which make up the bulk of this great work. Orchestra and choir also very much attuned to the work as a whole which truly radiates religious warmth and great beauty and the swifter speeds make it fit onto two CDs unlike say Klemperer's or Karajan's who take the three CD road with a work lasting close to three hours.

Skidmore also provides some interesting notes about the option of using English for performance which are essential reading. Perhaps not your ideal St. Matthew but definitely a fine companion version to set alongside the greats of the Lutheran school such as Munchinger and the aforementioned.

Copyright © 2009, Gerald Fenech