Each Good Friday I try to listen to one of the Bach Passions. Last year I was fortunate to hear Mark Padmore as the Evangelist in the St John Passion as part of the 2008 Proms season at the Royal Albert Hall. As I type this I am listening (courtesy of the wonderful BBC Listen Again) to a recording of the St Matthew Passion given on BBC Radio 3 last night. It’s fairly radical, with only 8 singers to cover all the solos and form the two choirs – all without a conductor but again with Mark Padmore as Evangelist. The advantage of such small forces is you can hear every word (OK, it’s in German so I am listening with a translation in front of me).
It’s hard to know what to say about a work as great as the St Matthew Passion. Perhaps I’ll single out one thing. And that is the huge sense of a lack of resolution with which Bach intentionally leaves us at the end of the final chorus. It’s as if he is saying – this is not the end of the story. Just wait until Sunday.
I wondered what Wordle would make of the words of Matthew chapters 26 and 27 – the text of the St Matthew Passion. This was the first attempt – I think it sums it up pretty well!