Hearing Bach's Passions
Johann Sebastian Bach's two surviving passions--St. John and St. Matthew--are an essential part of the modern repertory, performed regularly both by professional ensembles and amateur groups. These large, complex pieces are well loved, but due to our distance from the original context in which they were performed, questions and problems emerge. Bach scholar Daniel Melamed examines the issues we encounter when we hear the passions performed today, and offers unique insight into Bach's passion settings. Rather than providing a movement-by-movement analysis, Melamed uses the Bach repertory to introduce readers to some of the intriguing issues in the study and performance of older music, and explores what it means to listen to this music today. For instance, Bach wrote the passions for a particular liturgical event at a specific time and place; we hear them hundreds of years later, often a world away and usually in concert performances. They were performed with vocal and instrumental forces deployed according to early 18th-century conceptions; we usually hear them now as the pinnacle of the choral/orchestral repertory, adapted to modern forces and conventions. In Bach's time, passion settings were revised, altered, and tampered with both by their composers and by other musicians who used them; today we tend to regard them as having fixed texts to be treated mith respect. Their music was sometimes recycled from other compositions or reused itself for other purposes; we have trouble imagining the familiar material of Bach's passion settings in any other guise. Melamed takes on these issues, exploring everything from the sources that transmit Bach's passion settings today to the issues surrounding performance practice (including the question of the size of Bach's ensemble). He delves into the passions as dramatic music, examines the problem of multiple versions of a work and the reconstruction of lost pieces, explores the other passions in Bach's performing repertory, and sifts through the puzzle of authorship. Highly accessible to the non-specialist, the book assumes no technical musical knowledge and does not rely on printed musical examples. Based on the most recent scholarship and using lucid prose, the book opens up the debates surrounding this repertory to music lovers, choral singers, church musicians, and students of Bach's music.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
Other editions - View all
alto anonymous St attribution authorship Bach’s listeners Bach’s music Bach’s passions Bach’s performances Bach’s St bass basso continuo cantatas century characters choir Chorale church cantatas church music commentary movements composer composer’s composition concerted concertists copied Cöthen dialogue double-chorus dramatic eighteenth eighteenth-century Evangelist four-part Funeral Music Gospel narrative Gospel text Gottes Sohn Hamburg Händel’s Herr Interpolated texts J. S. Bach Jesus Johann Ludwig Bach Johann Sebastian Johann Sebastian Bach John Passion kind Leipzig liturgical Luke Passion Mark Passion Matthew Passion ments modern performances musicians oboe Ode of Mourning operatic oratorio original performing parody Passion BWV passion performances passion settings performing materials Peter Picander pieces Pilate practice principal singers problems recitatives and arias Reinhard Keiser represent revised ripienists ripieno roles sing sion solo soloists soprano Spitta stanzas suggests sung surviving Telemann tenor teurer Heiland typical Violin vocal ensemble voices Weimar Weimar-era Wein words work’s