2 CD - 9031-74862-2 - (p) 1995

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Johannes-Passion, BWV 245

Parte prima

35' 28"
- 1. Coro: "Herr, unser Herrscher" 9' 28"
- 2a. Recitativo (Tenore, Basso): "Jesus ging mit seinen Jüngern" 2' 33" |
- 2b. Coro: "Jesum von Nazareth" |
- 2c. Recitativo (Tenore, Basso): "Jesus spricht zu ihnen" |
- 2d. Coro: "Jesum von Nazareth" |
- 2e. Recitativo (Tenore, Basso): "Jesus antowortete" |
- 3. Choral: "O große Lieb" 0' 50"
- 4. Recitativo (Tenore, Basso): "Auf daß das Wort erfüllet würde" 1' 11"
- 5. Choral: "Dein Will gescheh, Herr Gott, zugleich" 0' 51"
- 6. Recitativo (Tenore): "Die Schar aber und der Oberhauotmann" 0' 45"
- 7. Aria (Alto): "Von den Stricken meiner Sünden" 4' 41"
- 8. Recitativo (Tenore): "Simon Petrus aber folgete Jesu nach" 0' 12"
- 9. Aria (Soprano): "Ich folge dir gleichfalls" 4' 19"
- 10. Recitativo (Soprano, Tenore, Basso): "Derselbige Jünger" 3' 06"
- 11. Choral: "Wer hat dich so geschlagen" 1' 36"
- 12a. Recitativo (Tenore): "Und Hannas sandte ihn gebunden" 2' 05" |
- 12b. Coro: "Bist du nicht seiner Jünger einer?" |
- 12c. Recitativo (Tenore, Basso): "Er leugnete aber und sprach" |
- 13. Aria (Tenore): "Ach, mein Sinn" 2' 39"
- 14. Choral: "Petrus, der nicht denkt zurück" 1' 11"
Parte Seconda

74' 37"
- 15. Choral: "Christus, der uns selig macht" 1' 01"
- 16a. Recitativo (Tenore, Basso): "Da führeten sie Jesum" 4' 23" |
- 16b. Coro: "Wäre dieser nicht ein Übeltäter" |
- 16c. Recitativo (Tenore, Basso): "Da sprach Pilatus zu ihnen" |
- 16d. Coro: "Wir dürfen niemand töten" |
- 16e. Recitativo (Tenore, Basso): "Aud daß erfüllet würde das Wort" |
- 17. Choral: "Ach großer König" 1' 26"
- 18a. Recitativo (Tenore, Basso): "Da sprach Pilatus zu ihm" 1' 26" |
- 18b. Coro: "Nicht diesen, sondern Barrabam" |
- 18c. Recitativo (Tenore): "Barrabas aber war ein Mörder" |
- 19. Arioso (Basso): "Betrachte, meine Seel" 1' 26"
- 20. Aria (Tenore): "Erwäge, wie sein blutgefärbter Rücken" 8' 36"
- 21a. Recitativo (Tenore): "Und die Kriegskenchte flochten eine Krone" 5' 57" |
- 21b. Coro: "Sei gegrüßet, lieber Judenkönig" |
- 21c. Recitativo (Tenore, Basso): "Und gaben ihm Backenstreiche" |
- 21d. Coro: "Kreuzige, kreuzige" |
- 21e. Recitativo (Tenore, Basso): "Pilatus sprach zu ihnen" |
- 21f. Coro: "Wir haben ein Gesetz" |
- 21g. Recitativo (Tenore, Basso): "Da Pilatus das Wort hörete" |
- 22. Choral: "Durch dein Gefàngnis, Gottes Sohn" 0' 55"
- 23a. Recitativo (Tenore): "Die juden aber schrieen und sprachen" 4' 20" |
- 23b. Coro: "Lässest du diesen los" |
- 23c. Recitativo (Tenore, Basso): "Da Pilatus das Wort hörete" |
- 23d. Coro: "Weg, weg mit dem, kreuzige uhn!" |
- 23e. Recitativo (Tenore, Basso): "Spricht Pilatus zu ihnen" |
- 23f. Coro: "Wir haben keinen König" |
- 23g. Recitativo (Tenore): "Da überantwortete er ihn" |
- 24 Aria [con Coro]: "Eilt, ihr angefochten Seelen" 4' 06"
- 25a. Recitativo (Tenore): "Allda kreutzigten sie ihn" 2' 09" |
- 25b. Coro: "Schreibe nicht: der Juden König" |
- 25c. Recitativo (Tenore, Basso): "Pilatus antwortet" |
- 26. Choral: "In meines Herzens Grunde" 1' 03"
- 27a. Recitativo (Tenore): "Die Kriegsknechte aber" 3' 26" |
- 27b. Coro: "Lasset uns den nicht zerteilen" |
- 27c. Recitativo (Tenore, Basso): "Auf daß erfüllet würde die Schrift" |
- 28. Choral: "Er nahm alles wohl in acht" 1' 03"
- 29. Recitativo (Tenore, Basso): "Und von Stund an nahm sie der Jünger" 1' 15"
- 30. Aria (alto): "Es ist vollbracht" 5' 07"
- 31. Recitativo (Tenore): "Und neiget das Haupt" 0' 20"
- 32. Aria [con Corale]: "Mein teuer Heiland" 5' 11"
- 33. Recitativo (Tenore): "Und siehe da, der Vorhang im Tempel zerriß" 0' 28"
- 34. Arioso (Tenore): "Mein Herz, indem die ganze Welt" 0' 54"
- 35. Aria (Soprano): "Zerfließe, mein Herze" 6' 04"
- 36. Recitativo (Tenore): "Die Juden aber, dieweil es Rüsttag war" 1' 59"
- 37. Choral: "O hilf, Christe, Gottes Sohn" 0' 58"
- 38. Recitativo (Tenore): "Darnach bat Pilatum Joseph von Arimathia" 1' 51"
- 39. Coro: "Ruth wohl, ohr heiligen Gebeine" 6' 13"
- 40. Choral: "Ach Herr, laß dein lieb Engelein" 2' 02"

Angela Maria Blasi, Soprano (arias, Ancilla)
Marjana Lipovšek, Contralto (arias)

Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Tenor (Evangelista, arias)
Franz Leitner, Tenor (Servus)
Robert Holl, Bass (Jesus)
Anton Scharinger, Bass (Petrus, Pilatus, arias)

Arnold Schoenberg Chor / Erwin Ortner, Chorus master

CONCENTUS MUSICUS WIEN (mit Originalinstrumenten)

- Erich Höbarth, Violine, Viola d'amore
- Helmut Mitter, Viola
- Alice Harnoncourt, Violine, Viola d'amore
- Ursula Kortschak, Viola
- Anita Mitterer, Violine - Herwig Tachezi, Violoncello
- Andrea Bischof, Violine - Dorothea Guschlbauer, Violoncello
- Peter Schoberwalter, Violine - Eduard Hruza, Violone
- Karl Höffinger, Violine - Andrew Ackerman, Violone
- Walter Pfeiffer, Violine - Christophe Coin, Viola da gamba
- Silvia Walch-Iberer, Violine - Luca Pianca, Lute
- Maria Kubizek, Violine
- Robert Wolf, Flauto traverso
- Barbara Klebel, Violine - Reinhard Czasch, Flauto traverso
- Veronica Kröner, Violine - Hans Peter Westermann, Oboe, Oboe da caccia
- Peter Schoberwalter junior, Violine - Marie Wolf, Oboe, Oboe da caccia (solo), Ovoe d'amore
- Lynn Pascher, Viola - Christian Beuse, Fagott
- Gerold Klaus, Viola - Herbert Tachezi, Orgel

Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Gesamtleitung
Luogo e data di registrazione
Casino Zögernitz, Vienna (Austria) - ottobre e novembre 1993
Registrazione live / studio
Producer / Engineer
Wolfgang Mohr / Helmut Mühle / Michael Brammann
Prima Edizione CD
Teldec "Das Alte Werk" - 9031-74862-2 - (2 cd) - 35' 28" + 74' 37" - (p) 1995 - DDD
Prima Edizione LP

The present recording largely reflects the version of the score that appears in the Neue Bach-Ausgabe, although we have adopted our own interpretation of a number of points of detail, including, for example, the choice between solo and tutti and occasional doubling of wind instruments. Bach's bassono grosso was a valuable clue in this respect. Although it remains unclear whether this term refers to a double bassoon or, by analogy with other composers' use of the expression violino grosso, merely to the "bassoon of the grosso [i.e., full orchestral], we ourselves have preferred a double bassoon. Notwithstanding recent advocacy of the harpsichord, we have used only organ and lute as continuo instruments.
Nikolaus Harnoncourt

do not know whether the thirty-seven-year-old Johann Sebastian Bach was mortified to discover that he was not the obvious first choice to fill the vacant post of Kantor at St Thomas’s in Leipzig, a position to which he acceded only at the end of a lengthy selection process, albeit one from which he emerged with not inconsiderahle credit. At all events, there are no signs of any artistic dissatisfaction on his part on his taking up his duties in May l723. On the contrary: it was positive relish that he set about composmg his first cycle of Leipzig cantatau before tackling his first large-scale Latin work - the Magnificat BWV 243a - for the Christmas celebrations and finally turning to an even more demanding task in the form of his first full-length Passion. His Passio secundum Johannem was performed in Leipzig's Nikolaikirche on Good Friday 1724.
Leipzig audiences had little experience of large-scale oratorio Passions scored for elaborate forces. In 1717 one of Telemann's Passions had been performed in the Neukirche (something of a sideshow on the city's musical scene), and in 1721 and 1722 Bach’s predecessor, Johann Kuhnau, had made a modest and somewhat halfhearted attempt to perform a concert Passion. In this respect, there was no comparison with Hamburg, where the Passion oratorio had become something of an institution in the city’s rnnsical life - not, of course, as part of the divine service but within the framework of concert performances. As early as 1705 Hamburg's concert-goers had been able to hear a setting of Christian Friedrich Hunold's oratorio Der blituge und sterbende Jesus by the director of the Hamburg Opera, Reinhard Keiser, in a performance for which admission was charged and which took the form of a theatrical production "on a stage specially prepared for the occasion" at the city's almshouse. Barthold Heinrich Brockes (later to be appointed a member of the city's Senate) arranged performances of his own oratorio Der für die Sünden der Welt gamarterte und sterbende Jesus within the four walls of his own pritate house, attracting large audiences in the process. And in l717 that musical Jack-of-alltrades, the diplomat Johann Mattheson, offered his fellow townsfolk no fewer than four performances of the Brockes Passion in settings by Keiser, Telemann, Handel and himself.
That such performances were not aimed at furthering ecclesiastical interests or at providing religious instruction in the traditional sense, but at satisfying a musical need and educating middle-class tastes in the spirit of the early Enlightenment is palpably clear. All the more inevitable was it, therefore, that many of the local citizens - and not only the Pietists among them - should have fulminated against this "operatic" (or at least highly secular) appropriation of such a quintessentially Christian subject as that of Christ's Passion. In Leipzig the influence of traditional theology and religion was far greater, with the result that the sort of conditions that obtained in Hamburg were altogether unthinkable, it is no accident that, on taking up his appointment, Bach had to agree not to write in an excessively operatic vein.
Nnt that the new Thomaskantor harboured any such thoughts. Far from it. Even at this early stage - and certainly not only towards the end of his life - the great universalist was already striving to merge the old with the new, the sacred with the secular, the functional with the autonomous, general sublimity with individual beauty. His music can be read as a perfect reflection of an age that knows a yesterday, a today amd a tomorrow.
For his first Leipzig Passion, therefore, Bach did not stick to Brockes's text (a text which, familiar to Leipzig audiences from Telemann's setting, had been newly written for the occasion), but provided his own compilation, giving particular emphasis to Biblical quotation and stressing the irnportance of the chorales. Although he used Brockes's version of the arias and ariosos, he radically revised its lofty, over-elaborate style, simplifying the language and making it more accessible to a contemporary congregation. In this he may have been helped by Picander, who is otherwise first documented as his librettist from 1725 onwards. Bach was not the composer to need graphic, highly pictorial language to fire his imagination. It is difficult, after all, to conceive of a more heavily formulaic text than that of the opening chorus, "Herr, unser Herrscher; dessen Ruhm in allen Landen herrlich ist!", but what Bach makes of this is a vocal and instrumental tone-painting of hitherto unprecedented power in the history of Western rnusic. Within a single movement he describes God's power and rnaiesty the suffering of His creatures and the tide of emotion that sweeps through the whole of humanity at the events of the Passion.
Any other composer would no doubt have analysed the text in detail and begun by hymning God's greatness. Only then would he have turned to Christ's Passion. Although this is precisely what Bach does in his treatment of the chorus, in his writing for the orchestra he brings everything together as though it were a single event: the pedal point in the bass expresses the unshakeable calm of God the Father the dissonant pairs of woodwind that propel the musical argument forward with their insistent syncopations evoke the sufferings of the Son, and the surging string textures suggest the Holy Spirit suffusing our hearts.
In its finest moments - and there are many such moments in the St John Passion - Bach's music succeeds in clothing the syrnbolic, representational element in so transparent a musical structure that one can almost speak of autonomous art. This is trite not only of the opening chorus but also of the arias, the mayority of which are marvels of profundrty and clarity. Take, for example, the opening aria. "Von den Stricken meiner Sünden", with its testual reference to the "shares" set by sin; faced with its three-part polyphony, the listener is left wondering which to admire more: the intricate counterpoint as such or its symbolic use as a subtle expression of "ensnarement”. In much the same way; the following aria. "Ich folge dir gleichfalls", can be interpreted as a lively, if strictly imitative, passepied but also as a literal illustration of the idea of imitatio Christi.
The aria "Ach mein Sinn" is particularly Janus-headed: on the one hand, it reveals in composer following the Baroque rules of rnusical rhetoruc with such rigorous consistency that Arnold Schering was able to describe it as a veritable vade mecum of the Baroque doctrine of musical figures, while on the other hand the gestural language is characterised by an impassioned individualism that not only looks forward to the rhapsodical language of the Sturm und Drang but makes that language seem positively jejune.
Bach’s utter centrality in the history of Western music is nowhere better illustrated than by the aria "Es ist vollhracht", the principal idea of which is derived from the tradition of the instrumental tombeau as scored for lute, harpsichord and viol and associated at least from the 17th century with the notion of commemorating the death of important individuals. (Nikolaus Haruoncourt has already drawn attention to this link in his article "Das Quasi-Wort-Ton-Verhältnis in der rein instrumentalen Barockmusik".) At the same time, however the opening bars of the aria anticipate the Klagender Gesang (“Arioso dolente") of Beetlroven's op. 110 Piano Sonata and the aria "Es ist genug” (It is enough) from Mendelssohn's Elijah. What matters here is not whether Bach borrowed directly from lutenists and viol players such as René Mesangeau and Marin Marais or, indeed, whether Beethoven and Mendelssohn borrowed from Bach: far rnore important is the observation that, regardless of the uniqueness of his art, Bach drew on musical topoi that continued to exist in the collective unconscious not only of specialists hut also of normal listeners over a period of many centuries.
It is these normal listeners who respond with particular immediacy to the dramatic choruses traditionally described as turbae. Here, too, Bach succeeds in making complex contrapuntal writing seem like the language of pure gesture. It was in this spirit that Albert Schweitzer approached the "Kreuzige” chorus, hearing in the boys' voices "protracted howls as uttered hy an agitated crowd", while the men's voices express "mounting emotion, as though the raging populace were stretching forth a thousand arms towards Heaven". In much the same way the chorus "Lasset uns den nicht zerteilen" can he heard as a symmetrically constructed permutation fugue and at the same time as an evocation of casual gossip between soldiers not emotionally involved in the events taking place - perhaps even a description of the clattering of their dice. (In this context the onomatopoeic sound of the bassono grosso - a kind of double bassoon that is used in the present recording alongside the organ and lute - might acquire particular significance.)
Three generations ago, Albert Schweitzer was proud to he able to hail Bach as a modern musician whose tonepainting came close to anticipating Wagner’s overtly illustrative cornpositional style. Shortly afterwards it was discovered that this style, far from being an expression of artistic whimsy; was in fact grounded in the Baroque understanding of music as “tonal rhetoric" - to quote Harnoncourt, who has devoted his life to the idea of “intelligent listening’ and who has written widely on the subject.
To listen understanding and intelligence means not only hearing Bachs' music, on an immanent level, as order and expression but also - to quote Albert Schweitzer once again - interpreting it as a lesson in theology. One may legitimately recall Martin Luther, who, on hearing Josquin's equally complex yet natural-sounding works, is reputed to have said that God also preached the Gospel through music; and we may also recall the theological thrust of recent Bach scholarship, which has accorded a significant role to numerology in the eyes of the musician, such speculations may occasionally seem too much of a good thing: after all, the Passion and cantata in Bach’s day were examples of what might be termed Gebrauchsmusik or “utility music", conceived from the outset against a background of constant revisions required by the changing conditions under which they were performed. There is a danger, therefore, that the large-scale form of the Passions may be overinterpreted in the search for rules, symmetries and symbolic numerical ratios. That Bach must none the less be taken seriously as an esoteric thinker can no longer be questioned, however.       
Martin Geck
Translations: Stewart Spencer

Nikolaus Harnoncourt (1929-2016)
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