St. John's Passion from Thomaskirche

Did anybody here watch the livestream of a stripped down Johannespassion from the Thomaskirche today? (ENGLISH BELOW) Programmheft zum... - Bach-Archiv · Bachfest Leipzig
I notice they are raving about it on facebook. One solo singer, organ, harpsichord, gamba, a couple of quartets of singers and a PERCUSSIONIST. Mostly doing brief xylophone riffs on the choruses in lieu of actually performing them, while the harpsichordist charged forward trying to keep up with him. And there I was with the score all called up on imslp, ready to sing my heart out. Sigh.

If you want a beautiful St. John for today (or any day), listen to the one the UNT Collegium performed in 2017.

It’s the earlier version.


Yes I saw part of it. It was very unorthodox, but the combination of historical instruments and percussion worked surprisingly well. The Thomaskirche is, to me, such a moving environment to visit, but to see it virtually empty while the Thomaskantor (Gotthold Schwartz) sang and directed a OVPP choir was just amazing. There was also a small, but valuable contribution from a Bach society in Malaysia. I hope they will upload the whole thing to YouTube so non-FB people can watch it.


  • David Bedlow

Just watched it. It will be available here: until July 9.

The setting in the nearly empty Thomaskirche in time of plague made it gripping, I thought, and I liked the idea of stripping things down but preserving the entire story, which is kind of the point of the piece anyway. A number of missteps, too - the percussion in the opening chorus, horribly overdone continuo in “Mein teurer Heiland” (which was also too fast). Some very nice touches - he sung most of “Es ist vollbracht” down an octave to fit his range better, but the closing was up at the original pitch. Lots of alternation between h’chord and organ, which was very effective.

This wasn’t cobbled together at the last minute as Plague Passion. The first perfomance was last year.
The tenor has a lot of stamina, maybe because he’s Icelandic and was raised on a diet of fish sticks and fermented shark.

Edit: [click the icon that looks like a pencil to edit a message you posted. Note that messages are not sent out as email immediately. They’re held for a couple of minutes so that they can incorporate last-minute edits]

Thanks to Judy for calling our attention to this.