Bach produced his St John Passion in 1724, and it was his first setting of the Passion story. The premiere of the first version took place on Good Friday in Leipzig at the Nicolaikirche. Johann Kuhnau had introduced the tradition of Passion oratorios to Leipzig a few years earlier. Bach’s work underwent several revisions right up to the late 1740s, and was performed regularly in all versions.
Bach’s Passions have an interesting history. He is credited with five, but only two survive intact, the St John and the St Matthew. The St Mark manuscript was destroyed during a bombing raid in the Second World War, although some music and the text survived, and it has been reconstructed and subsequently recorded.
Passion settings appear to have occupied Bach from early on in his career. Some of the material used in the St John Passion dates back to 1714, and it is now believed that Bach reused material from an earlier and now lost Passion. In fact, Bach’s endless revisions saw material from the St Matthew Passion being included in the St John, several Sinfonias were added, and then removed, and these in turn provide material for the many incomplete concertos in Bach’s catalogue of works. Passions are musical descriptions of the events in the life of Christ, from the entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the Crucifixion.
- Recorded on March 1996.
- Includes each different '1725' movement as an extra appendix.
- "There are fine contributions especially from Stephen Varcoe, and an exceptionally immediate and affecting ‘Es ist vollbracht’ from Michael Chance" (Gramophone).
- Booklet note and sung texts included.