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Bach’s St John Passion: A Masterpiece of Baroque Music

Johann Sebastian Bach’s St John Passion is one of the most powerful and emotionally charged pieces of baroque music, and it remains a staple of the classical repertoire. Written in the early 18th century, this passion oratorio is based on the story of the crucifixion of Jesus as told in the gospel of John.

Bach’s Inspiration

Bach was known for his religious devotion and his faith often inspired his music. St John Passion was written as a musical representation of the Passion story and is considered one of Bach’s most personal works. He skillfully combined text and music to convey the story’s emotions, including the sorrow, grief, and triumph of the crucifixion and resurrection.

Passion Oratorios

The term “passion” refers to a musical setting of the story of the Passion of Christ, as told in the gospels of the New Testament. These works are usually performed during Easter and typically include recitatives, arias, choruses, and instrumental passages. The passion oratorios of Bach are considered some of the most outstanding examples of this genre, revered for their musical sophistication, emotional depth, and historical significance.

Some Popular Recordings 

There have been many recordings of Johann Sebastian Bach’s St John Passion over the years, and choosing the “best” one can be subjective and depend on individual taste. However, here are a few recordings that are widely regarded as some of the finest:

  1. Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s recording with the Concentus Musicus Wien and the Arnold Schoenberg Chorus (1978) is considered a landmark recording that set a new standard for historical authenticity.
  2. John Eliot Gardiner’s recording with the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists (2000) is another historically informed performance highly praised for its interpretation and musicality.
  3. Herbert von Karajan’s recording with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and the Berlin Radio Chorus (1960) is a more traditional interpretation notable for its rich and powerful sound.
  4. Philippe Herreweghe’s recording with the Collegium Vocale Gent and the Orchestre des Champs-Élysées (1998) is a well-regarded performance known for its clarity and focus on the text.
  5. Helmuth Rilling’s recording with the Gächinger Kantorei and the Bach-Collegium Stuttgart (1980) is widely respected for its attention to detail and musical expression.

The Melbourne Bach Choir’s Easter Performance

The Melbourne Bach Choir’s upcoming performance on Good Friday is a chance for audiences to experience the power and emotion of this timeless work. Whether you are a long-time classical music fan or a newcomer to the genre, this is an event that you won’t want to miss!

Don’t miss this chance to experience Bach’s masterpiece’s passion, drama, and beauty!