The St John and St Matthew Passions are Bach's most famous pieces of sacred music and are regarded as major pillars of Western culture.
The St John Passion is a haunting and dramatic musical depiction of the Passion of Christ, as told in the Gospel of John. The story of Jesus’ capture, judgment, and crucifixion are presented by the solo tenor (the Evangelist). A cast of other singers perform the roles of Jesus, Pilate, and the disciples, while the four-part choir represents the people at large. Chorales interrupt the flow of the plot at significant moments and allow for reverent reflection.
The St John Passion was first performed in 1724 but was revised and changed for subsequent performances in 1725, 1732, and 1749. The latter version will be performed by Bach Musica NZ.
The Passion’s final chorus, Ruht wohl, ihr heiligen Gebeine, bids farewell to all lament and suffering and drifts off into a lasting, celestial peace. The closing chorale speaks of angels, sleep “without any anguish or pain,” and eternal praise.
‘Music for the soul’, as needed now in our troubled world!
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