Arnout Koeneman | the netherlands | 06/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Very nice recording indeed.
Stay away from it if you like a big choir, Parrott performs a so-called one voice per part St. John...well actually in this recording 2 voices per part.
This would sound dreadful with the St. Mathew Passion, McCreesh's performance is evidence to that, but the St. John which is more compact and lean faires pretty well with it.
Parrott doesn't sound that smaller than Herreweghe's 1st St. John on Harmonia Mundi, both sound beautifully intimate...Herreweghe just a bit warmer and in certain parts more dramatic - though Parrott is more expressive and dramatic overall.
Parrott's soloists are good, with the exception of alto Caroline Trevor, her "Von den Stricken" is disappointing.
Parrott's pacing is excellent throughout, although the openingchorus "Herr unscher Herrscher" is a tad too quick.
The sound of the recording is better than his (also nice) Mass in b, it has more warmth, presence and more natural timbre/textures (his Mass in b is rather cold sounding)
All Parrott's Bach recordings are re-released at budget prices.
You can buy a 5 cd box including the St. John Passion, Mass in b, Easter Oratorio and the Ascension Oratorio for 25 euro in the Netherlands, which is about 30 dollar in the US.
But you can buy these works seperately too, 12.50 euro 2cd, which I did.
My compliments to Virgin for the good looking colorful covers of the booklets.
Universal Music (Philips, DG and Decca) and Naxos can learn from it: budget priced releases don't necessarily have to look cheap and ugly.
This St. John looks very nice, so does Parrott's Mass in B and Easter Oratorio.
(There's also a very fine performance of Bach cantatas from ensemble Sonorie led by Monica Huggett with soloist Nancy Argenta and Bach's violin concertos with Anthony Robson and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, both in Virgin's same budget serie...great performances with very nice and colorful coverart for very cheap)
True: you don't get much info and the sung texts aren't included, but you can get them from the internet for free and many already have a St. John, Mass in b in their music collection, with sung texts included.