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Easter exhibition 2012 - St. Matthew Passion - Norwegian Institute of Recorded Sound

Easter exhibition 2012 - St. Matthew Passion

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Norwegian Institute of Recorded Sound


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Easter exhibition 2012 - St. Matthew Passion

St. Matthew Passion - a peak of church music

We follow up the feedback we got on our past sound exhibitions, and continue with music for the Easter holidays. This year we have selected Bach's St. Matthew Passion and during the Easter holyday, we will post recitatives, arias and choral movements from this magnificent work. The recording dates from the year 1942.

Throughout Easter we will publish arias, choruses and orchestral pieces from Bach's St. Matthew Passion (Photo: Johan Sebastian Bach, painted by Elias Gottlob Haussmann)

Throughout Easter we will publish arias, choruses and orchestral pieces from Bach's St. Matthew Passion
(Photo: Johan Sebastian Bach, painted by Elias Gottlob Haussmann. Wikimedia Commons )

A passion is the story of Jesus' suffering and death. Many composers have written passions, the form has a long history of development. With Johan Sebastian Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, the passion music reached a high point in the Baroque period. Since Felix Mendelssohn's famous performance of the St. Matthew Passion in 1829 it has remained on the repertoire. There are many choirs world wide who these days performs this music.

The St. Matthew Passion is written for double choir and orchestra, as well as soloists. Two important roles are Jesus (baritone) and Evangelist (tenor). A soprano and contralto has some poignant solo parts.

Bach most likely wrote the The St. Matthew Passion in 1727, and it was first performed in the Church of St. Thomas in Leipzig, on Good Friday that year. Later Bach continued working on his music, and there are revisons from 1736 and 1742 for new performances. It appears that Bach has considered this passion to be one of his most important works, because he cared to keep the original manuscript copy safe from damages.

The texts is taken from chapter 26 and 27 in the Gospel of Matthew. In addition, Bach's librettist, Picander wrote texts for the arias. The Lutheran chorale is also important. In his masterly manner, Bach wrote music that forms the individual elements into a unity on a higher level. Bach’s compositional craft shows his mastery in the baroque compositional techniques, using well known elements of the doctrine of affections.

The action takes place in Jerualem and starts with the forecasts of the crucifixion a few days after Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday according to the biblical chronology. Some might wonder why there is no logical connection between the different days we have chosen to publish the music. This has to do with practical considerations in order to add some music every day throughout Easter week. With the hope of forgiveness for this trickery, we hope that Bach’s music will sound through the loadspeakers of all who visits this sound exhibition site.

During the Easter days we will present not only the composer and the music, but also the performers and the special story of the particular recording wh have chosen. The original 78 rpm shellac records are kept in the collection at the Norwegian Institute of Recorded Sound in Stavanger.

The records are professionally cleaned and digitized, but presented in an unrestored version complete with clicks and pops. The Norwegian Institute of Recorded Sound has a conservation audio file in wave format, while the files presented on this website is mp3 compressiosn of the original preservation files.

While you wait, you can hear the music we put out for Easter last year.
Then we presented a special recording of Handel's oratorio Messiah dating from 1906

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So follow us on through Easter and get your daily dose of Bach. Enjoy!

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Last update: 02.04.2012 08:46. Webmaster
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