There is considerable debate among Baroque scholars about whether or not Bach's choral works should be performed one voice per part (OVPP). Apparently, there is evidence that they were originally performed in this way, but I am not an expert so I will not pass any judgement on this.
This recording is OVPP, and, at least here, it seems to work brilliantly. It is easier to hear Bach's individual lines of counterpoint, which are often more difficult to follow than, say, Handel's. The sound is altogether more intimate, and yet the performers also seem able to rise to the grandeur of movements such as the Sanctus and the jubilation of the following Osanna in Excelsis. Nevertheless, it is in the quieter, more serene sections where this recording excels. Listen to the Et Incarnatus Est and the heart rending Crucifixus for wonderful examples. The Symbolum Nicenum section as a whole is, quite simply, perfect. It is hard to imagine the Credo In Unum Deum in particular sung any better. Overall, the small choir is excellent (especially the bass, although sometimes I found the tenor too restrained), as is the orchestra. Andrew Parrott is praiseworthy too, choosing very successful tempos and fully conveying the power of this amazing piece. I do have some criticisms- the orchestra occasionaly seems to overpower the modest choral group, and there is the slightly weak tenor whom I mentioned earlier. Nonetheless, these are only small criticisms, which occur rarely during the performance, and the tenor actually has a very beautiful voice (listen to him at the opening of the Credo, and in his Benedictus aria).
This recording will not be what everyone is looking for. If you want a more large scale, majestic performance, then Gardiner's recording may suit you better. However, this CD will disappoint few- if you are new to the work then Parrott will make an excellent guide, and if you already know it well then this will no doubt allow you to listen from a fresh angle, letting you feel like you are discovering one of Bach's greatest achievements all over again at a new level of authenticity. If you already own a more large scale recording, then this should sit alongside it perfectly, providing a delightful contrast. And really, who can resist this price? This is an innovative, full price performance at a super-budget sub-Naxos price. Outstanding.