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St John Passion

27 March 2010
Lichfield Cathedral

Birmingham Bach Choir, at Lichfield Cathedral

Apr 2 2010 By Richard Bratby, The Birmingham Post

The Birmingham Bach Choir's St John Passion may have lacked the profile of Simon Rattle's all-star St Matthew Passion earlier this month - but by any standards, this was an exceptionally fine performance.

That was helped by conductor Paul Spicer's conception of the work.

From the very opening chorus, he charged every word and phrase with emotion, and, pushing on urgently through the central trial sequence, generated a powerful dramatic momentum.

Then, after Christ's death, he lengthened the pauses between numbers, leaving pregnant silences as the implications of the story - and Bach's tear-stained music - sank in. The effect was devastating.

As was Thomas Hobbs' tremendous performance as the Evangelist, sung with a radiant tone and astonishing range of vocal characterisation. Jonathan Gunthorpe's all-too-human Christus, Adrian Powter's robust Pilate and Natalie Clifton-Griffith's pure soprano all added to a magnificent, and powerfully moving, team effort.

Rating: 5/5

Lichfield Cathedral