This isn't a new concept for the Dunedins: they released an excellent studio recording in 2013 which featured the same sequence of the pieces; a godsend when I was trying to puzzle out the identity of the organ piece preceeding the passion — it was Buxtehude's Prelude in F-sharp BuxWV146. In fact, the only really significant differences between the recorded version and tonight's performance, other than the expanded choral forces, was the decision to sing the congregational hymns in English — expecting an unprepared proms audience to sing in German was probably considered a little bit of a stretch — and Stephen Farr's addition of a muscular organ accompaniment to the final verse of Now thank we all our God to round the night off on a rousing note.
The performers were consistently excellent, with Nicholas Mulroy strikingly good as the evangelist and Matthew Brook, who I've raved about before, on fine, angry form as Jesus. The St John Passion, shorter and more intense than the contemplative St Matthew, makes a fine piece for the proms and the notion of getting the audience involved — John Butt apparently spent half an hour coaching them before the start of the performance — worked particularly well.
Another standout concert from the 2017 season.