This masterwork, written to be sung in church on Good Friday, 11 April 1727, at the composer's church, the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, goes far beyond the Christian story, and is now valued by all who love music and all who love humanity as the pinnacle of musical expression of the human condition. And if that all sounds a bit serious, there is within some of the most transporting, lovely and inspiring music you will ever hear. That's why the St Matthew Passion is catnip for those who already love it, and a constant revelation to newcomers.
Performances abound around Easter time, but the piece is never out of time, and even though there are other performances in the pipeline, this one at St John's Smith Square, a short walk from the Houses of Parliament, has already proved so popular that the beautiful birdseye view balcony has now been opened, putting new tickets on sale to those who act quickly.
One of the great attractions of the performance by choir and orchestra Armonico Consort is the role, as Evangelist, by Ian Bostridge. A British tenor of quite outstanding sensitivity and vocal beauty, he will bring a special quality to this profound piece. Bostridge's repertoire spans song and opera, and in this most operatic of all sacred music, he is in his element.
The St Matthew Passion is one of only two surviving Bach passions and fantastically complex, with two or three independent choirs, a double orchestra, and virtuoso solos for unusual instruments.
But if this work is so operatic, why did Bach never move to that genre? 'Bach kept applying for opera jobs and not getting them,' says Sellars. 'So he applied the traditions of opera... It’s the most personal experience. The genius of Bach is that he depicts a spiritual path as dialogue... Bach has that sense of "all of us are only going to make it thanks to our friends".'
|What||St Matthew Passion, St John's Smith Square|
|Where||St John's Smith Square, 30 Smith Square, London , SW1P 3HF | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Westminster (underground)|
On 05 Apr 17, 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
|Price||£14 - £35|
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|