The appetite for evolving performance practices in Bach’s St Matthew Passion appears undiminished as we have gradually shifted, over the generations, from larger to smaller ensembles and also towards a greater dramatic understanding of the implications of Bach’s ambitious ‘stereophonic’ double choir and orchestra choreography.
"The final album by West Coast pianist and composer Horace Tapscott is one of sublime gentility, reaching harmonic elegance and meditative grace. Accompanied by Billy Hart on drums and bassist Ray Drummond, Tapscott moves through five compositions by others (…) and adds four of his own to a set that is unusually devoid of odd time signatures and floating rhythmic techniques. (…) If Tapscott would have had more time, there is no telling where he would have gone. Maybe he would have stayed in the same place he'd stayed for 30 years, helping out younger musicians from L.A. But with playing and composition like this, rattling the cage of the neo-trad punks, it's hard to believe they could have overlooked him forever.
It has haunted René Jacobs since childhood: first as a boy soprano in Ghent, then as a countertenor, he has constantly frequented the supreme masterpiece that is the 'St Matthew Passion'. Jacobs uses the layout of the Good Friday Vesper service from Bach's time, with choirs front and back, rather than side-by-side. He also gives us extra soloists to complete the bi-choral effect. For Bach, the two halves were 28 metres apart. At that distance, coordination difficulties begin to appear between the speed of light, and the speed of sound, and we cannot determine how Bach dealt with this problem. However the wonders of SACD multichannel surround sound can at last give an impression of what Bach intended for St Thomas’ Church in Leipzig.