Saturday, March 28, 2015

Additional Concerts over WCRB on March 29, 2015

In addition to the Boston Symphony concert broadcast/webstream of March 28, which I strongly recommend, WCRB is giving us a chance to hear two other masterpieces in performance this weekend. On Sunday they're giving us the two surviving Passions by J. S. Bach. First, at 3:00 p.m., we get a live broadcast of a performance of the St. Matthew Passion by the Handel and Haydn Society. I have a ticket, so I expect to be hearing it in the hall while you can listen on radio or the web. Here's how WCRB describes it:
WCRB takes you live to Symphony Hall for one of the signature events of the bicentennial season of the Handel and Haydn Society. Artistic Director Harry Christophers leads this pinnacle of Bach's musical achievement, a piece performed for the first time in the U.S. by the Handel and Haydn Society in 1879. Tenor Joshua Ellicott sings the role of the Evangelist, with baritone Roderick Williams in the role of Jesus. Additional soloists include
  • soprano Joélle Harvey,
  • mezzo-soprano Anna Stéphany,
  • tenor Matthew Long, and
  • baritone Sumner Thompson, with
  • the VAP Young Women's and Young Men's Choruses.

Then at 7:00 p. m. they broadcast and stream the recording they made of a recent performance of the St. John Passion by Emmanuel Music, reviewed here in the Boston Musical Intelligencer. Here's WCRB's description:
Ryan Turner leads the chorus and orchestra of Emmanuel Music in Bach's St. John Passion, with tenor Matthew Anderson in the role of the Evangelist and baritone Dana Whiteside in the role of Jesus. Additional soloists include
  • sopranos Roberta Anderson and Brenna Wells,
  • altos Deborah Rentz-Moore and Krista River,
  • tenors Jonas Budris and Frank Kelley, and
  • bass soloists Bradford Gleim, Mark McSweeney, and Paul Max Tipton.

If you're familiar with both, you know how you'd prioritize. If not, there are a couple of perspectives I'd offer. The St. Matthew is generally regarded as one of the summits of Western music. It is monumental and profound. In my personal opinion, it can also be overwhelming and seem ponderous. The St. John is maybe not quite so highly esteemed by the professionals, but I find it livelier and a bit more accessible.

To help you decide if you'd like to listen to either or both of these pieces which are so appropriate for Holy Week, there are links to interviews with the directors of each performance on the page WCRB dedicates to them.

If you plan to listen to either, I strongly recommend having a copy of the text in German and English so you can follow along. I'm sure you can readily find both online.

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