Having enjoyed great success with the Christmas Oratorio and the B minor Mass, the Chamber Choir and ensemble frauenkirche dresden under the direction of Frauenkirche music director Matthias Grünert now continue their series of great works by Johann Sebastian Bach. Their St John Passion live from Dresden's Frauenkirche enthralled audience and critics alike at Passiontide 2017. Release on a double CD not only makes this great work readily accessible at home, it transports you directly into an unforgettable evening of drama.
Matthias Grünert, the Frauenkirche’s Erster Kantor since the church’s rededication, is the seasoned Bach expert who leads the Chamber Choir and ensemble frauenkirche dresden through the Passion. These experienced musical partners are complemented by a group of internationally renowned soloists: Camilla Nylund (soprano) and Andreas Scheibner (bass), both Kammersänger of the Land of Saxony, Nicole Pieper (alto), Falko Hönisch (Vox Christi) – and at their head Tilman Lichdi (Evangelist), one of the great recitative tenors of our day.
Bach's Passio secundum Johannem is the later of the two Passions of his that have come down to us complete. It portrays the dramatic turns of events and fateful inevitability of the last hours of Jesus, the Christ, "intensely, and altogether with genius, notably in the choruses," or so Robert Schumann concluded. Amazingly, the St John Passion is the only one of Bach's oratorical works that never received final form at his hands, as he was revising it and changing its conceptual approach over the course of his entire life.
Although Bach and particularly his vocal oeuvre is often associated with Leipzig, he and his music are just as well suited to Dresden, the Florence of the Elbe – where for years on end he had petitioned the Elector for the title of "Court Composer". The city's Frauenkirche provides the perfect backdrop to the intense drama of the Passion music, having a direct link to Bach: it was in this church, in the year 1736, that the great Thomaskantor played the newly dedicated organ in that sacred place where his "Passion according to John" was to be enacted almost three hundred years later.