Perfection is not demanded, but it is rather sweet when you come across it, as in this involving and virtually flawless performance.

Under John Hancorn’s direction, the pace of the music was finely judged – never ponderous and never hurried, it brought out the drama of the Passion story and neatly stitched together the continuous flow of music from chorus, to recitative, to chorale to aria.

The effect was to make Bach’s music seem effortless as well as profound, and Hancorn’s overall conception was satisfyingly unified.

A luxuriously sonorous and solid continuo (cello and organ) underpinned the sung narrative of the evangelist (tenor Andrew Griffiths) and, with only a few moments of uncertainty in the opening bars, the orchestral ensemble was equally vivid, clean and balanced throughout in supporting a crisp and light but assertive chorus.

The soloists were the icing on this cake, unforced in style and tone and avoiding any extraneous melodrama.

There were many intense moments in this Passion but the emotional centre of the work was captured immaculately, in the alto aria with viola da gamba solo, heralding Christ’s death, and in the overwhelming solemnity of the final chorus for choir and orchestra.

An absolutely fitting climax to this year’s Early Music Festival.