Most helpful positive review
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A performance of great distinction
on 7 February 2012
I first wrote this about an earlier issue of this recording, which seems no longer to be available, so I reproduce it here.
I have always considered the sound of the King's College Choir to be too lightweight and polite, and in this recording their German pronunciation is sometimes awry. Having got that off my chest, I can say that everything else about this performance is splendid. The playing of the Academy of St Martins is impeccable, Philip Ledger's direction inspired, with tempi just right (except for the Lullaby in Part 2 which might have been better slightly slower) and the soloists seem ideally suited to this music. Robert Tear is a persuasive, declamatory Evangelist and sings his arias with great feeling, and Elly Ameling is beautifully radiant. It is almost needless to say that Janet Baker and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau give performances of real distinction. His "Grosser Herr" in Part 1 will make you sit up and listen, but his delicate accompanied recitatives are even more moving. I find Janet Baker's "Schliesse mein Herz" in Part 3 to be her best aria here, although the others are also admirable. EMI's recording is of the best, and has overcome most of the notorious reverberation of King's College Chapel.
This is some of Bach's most joyful music, and this performance will cheer you up on the darkest of winter days.