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St. John Passion

This massive and complex piece by Johann Sebastian Bach tells the story of the final days of Jesus. It's a work that speaks to the heart of the Christian narrative, which itself lies at the heart of Western culture...
Passion re-enactment in the Spanish town of La Molina de Ubierna. (© STR New / Reuters)
Listen to the full episode53:59

This massive and complex piece by Johann Sebastian Bach tells the story of the final days of Jesus. It's a work that speaks to the heart of the Christian narrative, which itself lies at the heart of Western culture. World-renowned Tafelmusik Chamber Choir Director Ivars Taurins and music broadcaster Robert Harris zoom in on the work from the conductor's perspective, and offer a close reading of its skeletal structure to show how notes translate into meaning – all at a level of detail we listeners rarely discern.


Music featured in the program:

O Mensch, bewein from the CD St. Mathew Passion performed by Dunedin Consort and Players on Linn Records.

Herr, unser Herrscher from the CD St. John Passion perfomerd by English Baroque Soloists dir. John Eliot Gardiner on NDR Kultur.

Jesus ging mit seinen Jungern from the CD St. John Passion performed by English Baroque Soloists dir. John Eliot Gardiner on Archiv.        

O Grosse Lieb from the CD St. John Passion Concentus Musicus Wien dir. Nicholas Haroncourt on Teldec.

In meines Herzen Grunde from the CD St. John Passion performed by English Baroque Soloists dir John Eliot Gardiner on NDR Kultur. 

Wer hat dich so geschlagen from the CD St. John Passion performed by La Chapelle Royale, Paris dir. Philippe Herreweghe on Harmonia Mundi​.

Er leugnete aber und sprach from the CD St. John Passion performed by La Chapelle Royale, Paris dir. Phillippe Herreweghr on Harmonia Mundi.

Ach, mein Sinn from the CD St. John Passion performed by English Baroque Soloists dir. John Eliot Gardiner on Archiv. 

Christus, der uns selig macht from the CD St. John Passion performed by Dunedin Consort dir. John Butt on Linn.

Ware dieser nicht ein Ubeltater from the CD St. John Passion ​performed by Bach Collegium Japan dir. Masaaki Suzuki on Romanesca.

Sei, gregusset from the CD St. John Passion performed by English Baroque Soloists dir. John Eliot Gardiner on NDR Kultur.

Weg, weg mit dem from the CD St. John Passion performed by Bach Collegium Japan dir. Masaaki Suzuki on Romanesca.

Betrachte, mein seel on the CD St. John Passion performed by English Baroque Soloists dir. John Eliot Gardiner on NDR Kultur.

Mein teurer heiland from the CD St. John Passion English Baroque Soloists dir. John Eliot Gardiner on NDR Kultur.

Zerfliesse, mein Herze from the CD St. John Passion performed by Magdalena Kozena, dir. Marek Strynci on Teldec.

Ruht wohl from the CD St. John Passion performed by La Chapelle Royale, Paris dir. Phillip Herreweghe on Harmonia Mundi.

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