Bach ‘St.John Passion’

A concert in Sunderland Minster.

Soloists :

Evangelist – Richard Edgar Wilson, Jesus – Philip Smith, Soprano – Jessica Holmes, Alto – Sara Parry, Tenor – Peter  Wilman, and Bass – Thomas Asher.

Please note that the date of this concert has been changed from that previously advertised.

Although Passion music was popular in some parts of Germany in the early 18th centuary, it was new to Leipzig. In 1721 Johann Kuhnau had introduced the genre to the city with his St.Mark Passion, but he died a year later; by the time his vacant post of Cantor at the Thomasschule was filled by Bach in 1723, there was no real tradition of Passion music to build on.

It appears that Bach composed five Passion settings, but only two have survived complete. The anonymous text of the St.John Passion is a complilation based in part on the famous Passion poem of B.H.Brockes. The biblical passages from St.John’s Gospel are set as recitative for the Evangelist, for Jesus and for various minor characters, or as choruses with urgent orchestral accompaniments which represent the mob calling for Jesus’s crucifixtion. The arias set free contemplative texts and provide a personal response to the action. The free chorales, using traditional Lutheran words and melodies, offer a communal response and ferquently employ bold, striking harmonies. The whole work, like Bach’s St.Matthew Passion, is framed by two massive choruses.