...both the music, that is, and the superb booklet-form presentation package containing this 3-CD version of Bach's musical masterpiece - possibly the greatest musical work in the past or in any millennium.
Harnoncourt's tempi may seem a trifle brisk for many listeners who are used to hearing sombre, slow and monumental versions of Bach sacred and choral music. I must say I did baulk at the tempo Harnoncourt takes, right from the opening bars.
However, one ends with the impression that the tempi are perfect. The soloists are all splendid, too, without having to pick one out, and both choirs have a sweet and mellow sound. (I didn't realise that the wonderful Schubert lieder exponent Ian Bostridge sings in the the role of Evangelist on another comparable recording of this work, but I really have no quibbles with this sound of this excellent performance).
The CD booklet in which the CDs come is really a class act, using medieval images that depict the Passiona and crucifixion of Christ, and presenting the excellent liner notes and words in a stylish and very sturdy package that almost resembles a hardback book.
Finally.... the CD ROM facility means one can pop a CD into a computer, which when presents images of the original score (with zoom-in facility). It's only slightly interesting - a word that emphatically does NOT apply to Bach's sublime music. But no doubt multimedia CDs like this will be the norm soon.
Verdict: a truly worthwhile addition to your CD collection, especially if you're a Bach worshipper.