Believers and non-believers alike are moved by its beautiful arias and big choruses, and by the almost operatic drama written into the sung tale.
Written to be sung in the Thomaskirche, Leipzig, on Good Friday, 11 April 1727, its first performance was by singers who worked from hurriedly inked parts, Bach later wrote, in a meticulous hand, a full score, picking out the the biblical text in red. As the church’s cantor, he was preserving his work for future generations.
It was the composer Felix Mendelssohn, 79 years after Bach’s death in 1750, who rescued the piece from oblivion; as the fashionable young conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra he championed many of Bach’s works.
The Bach Choir's performance, two weeks before Easter, at the Royal Festival Hall is sung by Florilegium, conducted by David Hill. The impressive line-up of soloists comprises the tenor Toby Spence (Evangelist), Matthew Best (Christus), with the soprano Sarah Tynan, counter-tenor Iestyn Davies, tenor Andrew Staples and baritone Roderick Williams.
Even those who know the St Matthew Passion well never cease to find new marvels within it, while the newcomer to the piece will be amazed by the immediacy of its sense of theatre and beautiful instrumentation.
|What||Bach Choir: St Matthew Passion, Royal Festival Hall|
|Where||Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
On 02 Apr 17, with two intervals
|Price||£10 - £52|
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|