Théâtre des Champs Élysées


Johann Sebastian Bach

Ian Bostridge, the finest Evangelist of the last 20 years, stars in an exceptional concert with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Composed in1723-24, BWV 245
After St John's Gospel

Stephen Layton  direction 

Ian Bostridge  tenor (The Evangelist)
Neal Davies  baryton-basse (Christ)
Julia Doyle  soprano
Iestyn Davies  counter tenor
Stuart Jackson  tenor
Roderick Williams  bass

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Chœur Polyphony

Setting the last days of the life of Christ to music is a tradition which began in the early Christian period. The first manuscript sources for performances date back to the 9th century. The genre developed very little until the 14th century, which saw the gradual introduction of a distinction between parts (the narrator, Christ). The genre established its credentials via Lutheran reforms in the early 16th century, which stipulated that the text must be sung in German rather than Latin so that everyone could understand it, and developed much richer polyphony, alternating between recitative, arias and large choral parts, influenced by Italian opera in particular. We know that Bach composed five Passions, but only two of them survive in their full form: St Matthew’s Passion and St John’s Passion. However, these two pieces alone make up an unrivalled body of work in the field of sacred music. St John’s Passion, composed in 1723-24 for Leipzig, was the first work on a huge scale written for the town where Bach had recently settled and for which he wrote almost half of his cantatas and the Christmas Oratorio. This majestic work, with its strikingly beautiful tunes for soloists and intense choral sections, is considered to be one of the finest works in the composer’s repertoire.


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