Choral Passion

This show previously aired on April 17, 2011

« previous episode | next episode »

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Passion of Christ is a story that has inspired a wealth of compositions, including J.S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion, one of the most revered works of sacred music. This week's show features movements from Bach's epic work, as well as contemporary works revolving around this story.

Bach led the premiere of his St. Matthew Passion on Good Friday, 1727, at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig. The text is taken from the book of Matthew, and is scored for double choir, orchestra, and soloists. St. Matthew's Passion is more than three hours in length, and recounts events from the arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, to his trial, crucifixion and death.

The writing is both immensely expressive and occasionally ominous, and is always evocative of the text. From the emphatic chorus shouts and perpetual motion of the orchestra in Thunder and Storm, to the subdued and sorrowful melismas of Aus Liebe, Bach paints a profound picture of Christ's final hours. Bach often employs chromatic melodies for words such as kill and love, which heightens their level of emotional impact. Almost 300 years later, The St. Matthew Passion continues to move and inspire.

Other passion-based works this week include Tan Dun's Water Passion, Dvorak's Stabat Mater, and David Lang's The Little Match Girl.



So ist mein Jesus nun gefangen and Sind Blitze, sind Donner in Wolken verschwunden from Matthaüs-Passion
J.S. Bach
Tölzer Knabenchor and La Petite Bande
Gustav Leonhardt, conductor
Christian Fliegner, soprano 
David Cordier, alto
Köln, Germany

Death and Earthquake from Water Passion after St. Matthew
Tan Dun
RIAS-Kammerchor, Sarah Ioannides, Choir Director
Tan Dun, Conductor
Elizabeth Keusch, soprano
Stephen Bryant, bass

kommt, ihr Töchter, helft mir klagen from Matthaüs-Passion
J.S. Bach, arr. Mendelssohn
Chorus Musicus Das Neue Orchester
Christoph Spering, conductor
Köln, Germany

Excerpts from Little Match Girl Passion 
I. come, daughter     
II. have mercy, my god        
III .we sit and cry
David Lang
Theatre of Voices and Ars Nova Copenhagen
Paul Hiller, conductor

Wir setzen uns mit Tränen nieder from Matthaüs Passion 
J.S. Bach
Collegium Vocale Gent
La Chapelle Royale
Philippe Herreweghe, conductor
Bruges, Belgium

Stabat Mater
I.Tui Nati vulnerati
II.Quando corpus morietur
Westminster Symphonic Choir, Joseph Flummerfelt, conductor
New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Zdenek Macal conductor 
New Jersey

O Mensch, bewein’dein Sunde grofs from Matthaüs Passion
J.S. Bach
Collegium Vocale Gent
La Chapelle Royale
Philippe Herreweghe, conductor
Bruges, Belgium

Comments [2]


I love your program. When you rebroadcast, as you did today, suggest you eliminate stale this instance Sing NY reference from last spring.


Nov. 13 2011 09:19 AM
Gary Ekman from Manhattan NYC

"Kommt, ihr Töchter, helft mir klagen" - if I were ever going to acknowledge the presence of the divine, of all of Bach's music this particular chorale might more than any other provide the glimpse and the gateway. The 12/8 time signature provides an irresistible forward flowing movement.

Nov. 13 2011 07:32 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.