Abruptly marooned on tour in Cologne by the pandemic lockdown in March this year and bereft of the live performances they had planned, Masaaki Suzuki’s Bach Collegium Japan decided to commit Bach’s St John Passion to disc. The result is a vividly immediate account that arrives hot on the heels of their Gramophone award for last year’s St Matthew Passion.

Bach Collegium Japan album artwork

Immediate from the off is Suzuki’s fleet pace, dramatic verve and the crisp, adrenalin-saturated snap of his wholly idiomatic players. This third account from the partnership of Bach’s searing take on the gospel (following a commendable 1999 studio CD, also on BIS, and a 2006 live performance on Euroarts DVD) is by far the best.

Driven by a sense...