Bach's The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to the Evangelist Matthew is a work whose stature and dimensions are every bit as colossal as its title. One of the peaks of the entire classical repertoire, it burns with an unmatched religious intensity, encompassing exquisite arias, rousing chorales and a densely patterned orchestral instrumentation. Played here by world-renowned period specialists the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and directed by Mark Padmore, it promises to soar heavenwards, taking its audience along for the ride. And there’s no need to spend the evening glancing at the program – the Passion will be performed in English.
The Passion – one of the four settings that Johann Sebastian Bach composed, of which only two survive – was first performed on Good Friday 1727. Revised several times until 1746, it blends Biblical text from the Gospel of Matthew with contemporary poetry that delves into its character’s thoughts. From the opening Chorus, it is clear that Bach is drawing on an unprecedentedly vast canvas, creating orchestral textures hitherto unimagined. The piece demands two separate choirs and orchestras, each of whom has several soloists attached. The resulting interplay adds further complexity to the music, which is alternatively ebullient and plaintive.
Padmore, who will sing as the Evangelist, will be joined by a who’s-who of outstanding vocalists, including Irish firebrand Paula Murrihy, baroque maestro Robin Blaze and award-winning bass-baritone Matthew Brook. Stephen Lodges, feted for his precision and emotional mastery, plays Christ. The orchestra’s own soloists will form the choir.
A choral scholar at Cambridge, Mark Padmore has become one of the world’s foremost interpreters of Bach’s vocal music. At home both in the opera house – where he has worked with the likes of Peter Brook and Deborah Warner – and the concert hall, Padmore has been praised for his authoritative timbre and bright, lyrical delivery. His prior performances of the Passion, with the likes of the Berlin Philharmonic, have attracted rave notices.
|What||Bach: St Matthew Passion, with Mark Padmore, Royal Festival Hall|
|Where||Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
On 02 Apr 15, 7:00 PM – 10:30 PM
|Website||Click here to book via the Southbank Centre’s website|