Britten: Bach - St. John Passion (2 CD, APE)
Britten: Bach – St. John Passion (2 CD, APE)

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Wandsworth School Boys Choir
Orchestra: English Chamber Orchestra
Conductor: Benjamin Britten
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 2 CD
Label: Decca
Size: 553 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

Peter Pears – Evangelist
Gwynne Howell – Jesus
John Shirley-Quirk – Pilate
Russell Burgess – Peter
Jenny Hill – Maid
John Tobin, Adrian Thompson – Servants

Disc 1:
01. 01 Sire, Lord and Master (chorus)
02. 02 Jesus went with his disciples
03. 07 O generous love! (chorale)
04. 08 So that the word might be fulfilled
05. 09 Thy will be done, O God of love (chorale)
06. 10 The band then, together with the captain
07. 11 To release me from the prison (contralto aria)
08. 12 Simon Peter also followed Jesus from afar
09. 13 I’ll follow thee also (soprano aria)
10. 14 Now that same disciple was known unto the high priest
11. 15 Ah, who would dare to smite thee?
12. 16 Now Annas sent him bound unto the high priest
13. 19 Ah! take flight (tenor aria)
14. 20 Peter, who denied his Lord (chorale)
15. 21 Christ, who gave us life and light (chorale)
16. 22 Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas to the judgement
17. 27 Ah, King of Heaven (chorale)
18. 28 And Pilate said unto him
19. 31 Look yonder, o my soul (bass arioso)
20. 32 Consider, how his body (tenor aria)

Also available:  Pascal Rogé - Nocturnes (SACD)

Disc 2:
01. 33 And when the soldiers had plaited a crown of thorns
02. 40 Thy bonds, O Christ, have set us free
03. 41 But the Jews cried out and said
04. 48 Haste, ye souls forlorn and weary (bass aria & ch.)
05. 49 And there crucified they him
06. 52 Within my heart, O Saviour (chorale)
07. 53 And then did the soldiers
08. 56 When his life had reached its end (chorale)
09. 57 And from that hour he took her unto his own home
10. 58 The end is nigh (contralto aria)
11. 60 My dearest Saviour, wilt thou answer? (bass & ch.)
12. 61 And then behold, the veil of the temple was rent
13. 62 My heart, behold how all the world (tenor arioso)
14. 63 With torrents of weeping (soprano only)
15. 64 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation
16. 65 Help us, Son of God most high (chorale)
17. 66 And after this, Joseph of Arimethea
18. 67 Farewell, O weary, broken body (chorus)
19. 68 Lord Jesus, when we come to die (chorale)

Britten’s *St. John*: A Flawed Masterpiece

I usually resist Bach sacred music in English; the Passions, in particular, can sound uncomfortably like Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” when rendered in oh-so-(in)correct BBC English. Moreover, Bach was alert to the distinctive timbres and rhythms of his native tongue (and in particular of Luther’s Bible translation), and for this reason it is just as important to hear his Passions in the original German as it is to hear Janacek’s operas in their original Czech.

On the other hand, a really good vernacular rendition by a musically sensitive translator can go a great distance toward capturing the distinctive inflections of the original text in the new language–and that is what Peter Pears and Imogen Holst have accomplished for Britten’s famous rendition of Bach’s *St John Passion.* Of course, even the most idiomatic of translations will remain ineffective in an earthbound performance–but that is certainly not the case here; for Britten was one of those multitalented composers who was also a gifted conductor. Indeed, few conductors–traditionally-minded or given to period manners–have penetrated so deeply into the core of Bach’s terrifying but exultant vision of Christ crucified than Britten. Britten clearly grasps St. John’s unique interpretation of the passion as simultaneously a humiliation and an exaltation: “When I am lifted up I shall draw all persons to myself.”

6 Comments

  1. Glad you still had this on file. I had another hard drive die with all the recordings.

    Bob

  2. Dear Whatewer,

    Thank You for this one :)

    @ Bob
    Do Yours HDD mentioned spin up & rotating at ordinary normal & Constant speed ? if so, then there are a big chances to make urself recover it and get access to ur filez, or at list to copy them to another HDD. :)

    BR

    Jan

  3. I don’t know why, but when I see a post with Bach on it, I have to have it. Thank you for making this available.

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