Johann Sebastian Bach is undoubtedly my favourite composer writing for the organ, keyboard, choirs, ensembles and solo instruments like the violin and cello. His choral works are masterpieces – Bach wrote hundreds of cantatas for weekly church performances in Leipzig where he was Cantor for 27 years.
The pinnacle of his choral works is the St Matthew Passion scored for two choirs and two orchestras. The dominant sound is strings and woodwinds such as oboes, flutes and recorders.
I have enjoyed this music for many years and no matter what your religious beliefs the music will move and inspire you.
The Passion is the name given to the last days of Jesus Christ on the Thursday and Friday (Good Friday) of Holy Week as written in the Gospel of Matthew chapters 26 and 27. The central components were the Last Supper, the betrayal by Judas, and the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Christ.
The narrative is sung in German by three soloists (tenor, baritone and soprano) interspersed with vast choruses and accompanied by orchestra. I don’t understand German but I can experience the emotion in and drama in the music. Fortunately there are many translations available of the German libretto.
I recommend this performance by the Cologne Philharmonic for listening and viewing on this Good Friday. The total duration is 2 hours and 43 minutes but watch the first ten minutes to get a feel for the music. Keep the music playing in the background while you go about your daily activities.