Well with Easter fast approaching I figured it was a great time to check out the new Linn Records release of Matthew Passion*. What I was wondering of course was whether it could possibly reach the bar they set with their groundbreaking, and award winning, reading of Messiah which Elk and I enthused about here. After such a stunning debut their follow-up seemed almost certain to disappoint, but I am happy (and astonished) to say that it doesn't in the slightest. This is another very special piece.
The first thing that struck me is the freshness, once again the smaller forces decongest the piece and give it a much more lithe, sprightly feel. The soloists too are really first rate with superb diction, inflection, emotion and (mostly) quite beautiful voices; both the male principals stand out. The playing of the Dunedin Consort is a joy to the ear. Flexible, pacey and sympathetic to the vocalists, what struck me most was the immense sense of concentration that pervades the entire piece. One gets the impression that Butt is an extremely demanding taskmaster and that an enormous amount of work has gone into producing such an inspiring end result.
SQ on the 24/88.2 FLAC 'Studio Master' is beyond reproach and absolutely up to the standard of the series so far. The bass in particular is extremely well captured, providing a solid foundation for the musical proceedings.
So, once again I can do nothing other than award five strutses out of five. Which brings us to the price.