Dunedin Consort

RSNO Centre, Glasgow

Miranda Heggie

four stars

UNDER the expert guest direction of early keyboard specialist Kristian Bezuidenhout, the Dunedin Consort bring Bach’s profound and moving setting of the the passion narrative from St Matthew’s gospel to three Scottish locations this Holy Week, performing on Wednesday night in Glasgow’s RSNO centre. Conducting from the harpsichord, Bezuidenhout’s style is elaborate, yet clear and precise, always in full command of the music’s subtleties.

Singing one voice to a part throughout, the octet of soloists lent a tremendous range of colour and depth to the work which often belied their modest number. The chorales were strong and robust, but not without poise and buoyancy, and the passages towards the end when the singers portray the angry crowd urging Pilate to crucify Christ had an antagonising urgency which was particularly effective.

Daniel Norman’s evangelist was clear and compelling, while Robert Davies as Jesus sang with a mellow intensity, showing both the firm and compassionate sides of Christ’s character.. Singing the roles of Judas, Pilate, Priests, Peter and Judas, bass Jimmy Holliday gave a persuasive performance in his portrayal of Christ’s betrayers. The stand out soloist of the group, however, was Glaswegian soprano Rachel Redmond, whose full, bright, soprano gave a radiancy to the music, most notably in the aria Ich will dir mein Herze schenken and its preceding recitative.

The solo instrumental playing in this performance was unwaveringly stunning; Jonathan Manson’s supple gamba playing moved in a sensitive dialogue with Bezuidenhout's harpsichord, and orchestra leader Sophie Gent’s ornamentation was exquisite in the introduction to the aria Erbarme dich mein Gott, sung here with warmth and poignancy by alto Emilie Renard.