Recorded some seven months before his death, this St Matthew Passion to a large extent reflects many of the qualities for which Sir Stephen Cleobury will be remembered. An Anglican penchant for doing things “decently and in order” could well characterise his musical outlook, together with a propensity for avoiding risk-taking. On both these scores he is well supported by his famous chapel choir, whose sound and style he nurtured over his 37-year tenure at King’s, and by the Academy of Ancient Music for whom this work forms part of their musical DNA.

Cleobury’s conception of this masterpiece is essentially conservative, although coloured by developments in historically informed performance over the last 60 years. His choice of soloists confirms this ambivalence. He is fortunate to have James Gilchrist as his evangelist. Gilchrist, an alumnus of the King’s choir, brings clarity and insight to the role, engaging the listener. Matthew Rose, as Jesus brings an operatic demeanour that is at odds with the prevailing soundscape. The same could be said for tenor Mark Le Brocq, whose O Schmerz and ensuing Ich...

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