Fri 14 May, 6.30pm
Bach St John Passion, Bartok Spring Festival, Online
J.S. Bach St John Passion, BWV 245
As part of Müpa Budapest’s ‘Bartók Spring International Arts Week’, our live streamed performance of Bach’s St John Passion will be available to watch online again on 14 May 2021. This concert was filmed live in Oxford’s historic Sheldonian Theatre for a broadcast on Good Friday this year, and features a dynamic cast of soloists alongside the Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, and John Eliot Gardiner.
“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 comes one year after lockdowns began in Europe due to Covid-19 - a period during which we have been broadcasting 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 is therefore fitting that we 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 includes 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, sings the Evangelist. The two principal actors in the biblical drama are 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, sings the soprano arias, and Peter Davoren, first heard as a soloist with Gardiner in the Monteverdi Vespers in 2010, takes the tenor solos. The young countertenor Alexander Chance performs the arias which his father Michael sang on the Choir’s first recording of the St John Passion.