St. John Passion
The musical highlight of Palm Sunday
J. S. Bach
Topi Lehtipuu, tenori (evankelista)
Juha Kotilainen, basso (Jeesus)
Suvi Väyrynen, sopraano
Tiina Penttinen, altto
Taavi Oramo, tenori
Arttu Kataja, basso
Heikki Liimola, johtaja
Johann Sebastian Bach’s beloved and dramatic St. John Passion is an expressively versatile and technically radiant piece that leads its listeners into the Easter spirit. The St. John Passion is shorter and more impulsive compared to its sister piece the St. Matthew Passion – the oratorio can be considered Bach’s first large-scale composition. It was performed for the first time in the St. Nicholas Church in Leipzig on Good Friday in 1724.
The timeless masterpiece tells the Easter story, from the arrest to the burial of Jesus, through artful arias, heartfelt chorales and pompous choral scenes. The musical world is dark and intense, and the diverse themes of the affects strongly bring forth the passion of Jesus. The St. John Passion is a great drama that leaves neither its audience nor performers cold.
It is known that Bach edited and renewed the St. John Passion several times during his lifetime. The pompous choral parts in the beginning and the end were added only after the first performance. The passion is divided into two parts, with a place for the sermon between them, and it is possible that the congregation sang along to the chorales. The chorales, like the arias, are individual scenes with the purpose to interrupt the story line and to give the listeners time to contemplate the meaning of the passion events.
The tight and seamless collaboration between Harju Chamber Choir and the Finnish Baroque Orchestra was last heard during Easter in 2017, with Monteverdi’s Vespers in Tampere Cathedral.