J.S. Bach St John Passion, BWV 245
Live streamed from the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford on Friday 2 April
Filmed by Stagecast Limited:
Andrew Quick (director), Matt Parkin (producer)
On Good Friday, John Eliot Gardiner led the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists in a live streamed performance of Bach’s setting of the Passion according to St John from Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre.
The unique setting of Oxford’s historic Sheldonian Theatre provided the backdrop for a performance that marked the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists’ return to the concert stage in 2021. A dynamic cast of soloists joined the Monteverdi ensembles for this live streamed concert, which was available to watch in high definition on Deutsche Grammophon’s digital platform, ‘DG Stage’.
“An Easter feast for the eyes as well as the ears.” ★★★★ The Sunday Times
“The crowd choruses were thrillingly delivered. Even better was the way Gardiner shaped every word of the chorales for maximum emotional impact, with everybody singing from memory throughout.” ★★★★ The Times
This performance came one year after lockdowns began in Europe due to Covid-19 - a period during which we broadcasted a cycle of Bach’s liturgical cantatas, introduced by the singers and instrumentalists who took part in our ground-breaking Bach Cantata Pilgrimage in the year 2000. It was therefore fitting to continue our commitment to the music of Bach by turning to one of the composer’s great sacred works: the St John Passion. Described by Martin Luther as ‘unique in loveliness’, the Gospel of John inspired Bach to respond with music which is by turns evocative, stirring, exultant and profoundly moving – a piece that holds our attention from beginning to end.
The cast of soloists included a new generation of British Bach singers. Nick Pritchard, a memorable tenor soloist in MCO’s last recording of Bach’s Mass in B minor, sang the Evangelist. The two principal actors in the biblical drama were taken by the young, award-winning bass William Thomas (Christus) and a long-standing collaborator of Gardiner, Alex Ashworth (Pilatus). One of the stars of MCO’s acclaimed 2018 Bach cantata cycle, Julia Doyle, sang the soprano arias, and Peter Davoren, first heard as a soloist with Gardiner in the Monteverdi Vespers in 2010, performed the tenor solos. The young countertenor Alexander Chance sang the arias which his father Michael performed on the Choir’s first recording of the St John Passion.
Charlotte La Thrope
English Baroque Soloists
Viola da gamba
Oboe & Oboe da caccia
Eligio Luis Quinteiro