Opera Scotland

Saint Matthew Passion 2017Dunedin Consort

Read more about the opera Matthew Passion

One of the most fascinating aspects of the performance of classical and baroque music in recent years is the extent to which accepted styles have changed. With baroque it is not merely instrumentation and the style of singing that has altered.

A great masterwork such as Bach’s Matthew Passion, was once a popular favourite with our choral societies. However the days when a big choir and symphony orchestra could play the piece acceptably seem to have gone. We expect a smallish choir, a chamber orchestra, and a group of light-voiced, solo singers.

The Dunedin Consort is renowned for trying to achieve an authentic sound. At Thursday’s performance in Perth they achieved wonderfully effective results with no choir at all – just eight singers who combined to perform the famous chorales and choruses. They took turns to sing arias, while individuals played the named characters – Evangelist, Jesus, Peter, Pilate and sundry priests, witnesses, etc..

The band, stylishly directed by Kristian Bezuidenhout, was divided into two intimate groups, only playing together occasionally. For arias, accompaniments were pared down to the minimum – alto Emilie Renard with violin (‘Erbarme dich’ quite superb), tenor David Lee with gamba, soprano Rachel Redmond with flute, and so on – each of the soloists took their turn, including soprano Miriam Allan and alto Rory McCleery. 

There are three principal named roles in this gripping music drama, with two basses, Jimmy Holliday as Pilate and Robert Davies as Jesus, both singing eloquently in the arias allotted to them. The Evangelist’s part is so long, with so many highlights, that it is difficult to focus on particular aspects of tenor Daniel Norman’s reading, but the narrative at cock-crow certainly made its due effect.

Performance DatesSaint Matthew Passion 2017

Map List

Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow | Glasgow

12 Apr, 19.00

Perth Concert Hall | Perth

13 Apr, 19.00

Queen's Hall, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

14 Apr, 19.00

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