Bach produced his St John Passion in 1724, and it was his first setting of the Passion story. The premiere of
the first version took place on Good Friday in Leipzig at the Nicolaikirche. Johann Kuhnau had introduced
the tradition of Passion oratorios to Leipzig a few years earlier. Bach’s work underwent several revisions
right up to the late 1740s, and was performed regularly in all versions.
Bach’s Passions have an interesting history. He is credited with five, but only two survive intact, the St John and the St Matthew. The St Mark manuscript was destroyed during a bombing raid in the Second World War, although some music and the text survived, and it has been reconstructed and subsequently recorded.
Passion settings appear to have occupied Bach from early on in his career. Some of the material used in the St John Passion dates back to 1714, and it is now believed that Bach reused material from an earlier and now lost Passion. In fact, Bach’s endless revisions saw material from the St Matthew Passion being included in the St John, several Sinfonias were added, and then removed, and these in turn provide material for the many incomplete concertos in Bach’s catalogue of works. Passions are musical descriptions of the events in the life of Christ, from the entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the Crucifixion. Bach’s Johannes Passion is on a smaller scale than its big brother Matthäus Passion, yet in its intimate and deeply emotional language it may make an even more profound impression.
- Recorded on March 1996: the full length CD recording plus the DVD of the same recording, filmed in the famous King’s College Chapel in Cambridge.
- Includes each different '1725' movement as an extra appendix.
- 'There are fine contributions especially from Stephen Varcoe, and an exceptionally immediate and affecting ‘Es ist vollbracht’ from Michael Chance.’ Gramophone
- Booklet note and sung texts included