April 1st, 2013


Matthäus Passion comments

I was asked to write about my experience of the Philadelphia Orchestra's production of Bach's St. Matthew Passion, which I saw and heard on Saturday night. For those keeping track, the participants were the Philadelphia Orchestra; Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor; The American Boychoir; and The Westminster Symphonic Choir (from Westminster Choir College). Soloists: Malin Christensson - Soprano; Karen Cargill - Mezzo-soprano; Andrew Staples - Tenor (Evangelist); Andrew Foster-Williams - Bass-baritone; and Luca Pisaroni - Bass-baritone (Jesus).

This Passion has two choirs and two orchestras, and some smaller groups of instrumentalists who play continuo for the solo pieces. The piece is a mixture of narration (the tenor evangelist); acting out of events by combinations of soloists and choir; choir chorales meditating on the proceedings, which the congregation was intended to sing as well; and choruses, which are the big opening parts, when the choir plays the angry crowd, etc.. St. Matthew in particular starts with Passover and goes through Jesus being entombed.

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BTW, The Philadelphia Bach Festival begins soon! B Minor Mass on May 5th!