Bath Evening Chronicle: "Concentrated intensity"
The St John has a concentrated intensity which requires not only meticulous attention to the musical detail, but an understanding of pace and tempo in the way Bach unfolds the drama. It has to move forward with a sense of urgency while creating a stable firm base which allows the musicians to build the tension at the heart of the work. Nigel Perrin got it exactly right: the singers, in an unusual horseshoe formation, finding not only the emotional power of the crucifixion itself, but the heart-rending poignancy of Ruht wohl. And the taut rhythms underlined the inevitability of the final outcome. This was balanced, controlled singing, accurate and beautifully controlled, given added potency by fine playing, never obtrusive but totally supportive, with some quite lovely delicate obbligato accompaniment.
Neil Jenkins, looking even more like an Old Testament prophet than when I last heard him sing this part, will have this music in his very being: and if the voice no longer has the power it once had, his lucidity and understanding of the role is profound and has a critical impact on the quality of the total performance. Craig Bissex gave us an imposing, dignified Christus, his rich deep baritone creating an excellent dialogue with Phil Brotheridge’s insistently questioning puzzled Pilate. Soprano Mary Bevan was radiant in Ich folge dir, the phrasing clear and elegant, poised and confident. A talent to watch. The other soloists from within the choir sustained the high standards this group has set, given excellent support from strings, woodwind and continuo, with Marcus Sealy at the organ. The Abbey should be very pleased with this second in their concert series, combining musical excellence with the deep Christian significance of Holy Week.
Peter Lloyd Williams