Bach’s St Matthew Passion

Friday 6th March 2020

I was sitting on stage in the choir for a performance of St Matthew Passion in Barcelona. I have sung this piece many times since a child and the opening bars of the great double-choir, double-orchestra weaving and winding the beginning of the great story never fail to make my stomach feel hollow and tears start to prick at my eyes. I love this piece in all its enormous range and unwieldy size, the slow pace of the unfolding and the depth of emotion evoked and explored.

For some reason, on this particular occasion, in the opulent Palau de Musica, the scene of the Last Supper, where Jesus breaks the bread and passes round the wine, asking everyone gathered to share the basic stuff of life in memory of him, suddenly had a special atmosphere. I wasn’t just listening to the scene being described, I was there. The actions and the ramifications of their observance down the centuries had a vast timelessness and an eternal and immediate call.

Adey Grummet

 

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