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  • J.S. BACH – MARKUS PASSION
  • J.S. BACH – MARKUS PASSION
  • J.S. BACH – MARKUS PASSION
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J.S. BACH – MARKUS PASSION
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AVSA9931 – J.S Bach Markus Passion

The existence of a third Passion by Bach based on the Gospel of St. Mark had long been known. Numerous studies carried out from the second half of the 20th century by specialist musicologists and musicians confirmed that on Good Friday, 1731, Bach presented this Passion set to a text by Picander, which the latter published one year later at the same time as his third volume of poetry. In 2009, the existence of this Passion was fully confirmed by the discovery at St. Petersburg of a later version of the libretto used for a new performance of the work, which took place in 1744. Compared with the 1732 libretto, it contains a number of modifications to the texts, as well as a different ordering of some chorales and arias and the addition of two new arias. Thanks to the new version, we have a very clear idea of the form and content of this third Passion by Bach.

Description

JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH
(1685-1750)

St. Mark Passion (BWV 247)
Picander’s 1732 libretto. Final version of the 1744 libretto

Complete revision by Jordi Savall on the basis of research, reconstructions and adaptations for the choruses and recitatives proposed by Alexander Grychtolik

The existence of a third Passion by Bach based on the Gospel of St. Mark had long been known. Numerous studies carried out from the second half of the 20th century by specialist musicologists and musicians confirmed that on Good Friday, 1731, Bach presented this Passion set to a text by Picander, which the latter published one year later at the same time as his third volume of poetry. In 2009, the existence of this Passion was fully confirmed by the discovery at St. Petersburg of a later version of the libretto used for a new performance of the work, which took place in 1744. Compared with the 1732 libretto, it contains a number of modifications to the texts, as well as a different ordering of some chorales and arias and the addition of two new arias. Thanks to the new version, we have a very clear idea of the form and content of this third Passion by Bach.

Unfortunately, so far no trace has been found of the original music. No manuscript score, copy or part-books provide evidence that it actually existed. It is disturbing that so much music should have disappeared, especially in the case of a great composer like Bach. However, it is now possible to account for this troubling mystery: after many years of research, most historians and musicologists specialising in the composer’s work agree that Bach probably conceived and performed the work using the pasticcio or parody technique. This was a system used by Bach on numerous occasions, which allowed him to achieve a different result by adapting new texts to other previously existing works of a similarly spiritual nature.

According to the research carried out in the 1960s by Dr. Alfred Dürr, it appears that Bach reused most of the Choruses and Arias from his Trauerode (Funeral Ode) BWV 198, performed at Leipzig on 17th October, 1727, in a funeral tribute to Christiane Eberhardine, Queen of Poland and Princess of Saxony; Laß Fürstin, lass noch einen Strahl (Let, Princess, let one more ray) was admirably reworked as Geh, Jesu, geh zu deiner Pein (Go, Jesus, go to your suffering!).

Following an in-depth study of some of the principal versions performed to date, we decided to offer one which would consist solely of loans from the works of Bach himself, in which, unlike some proposed versions, we chose not to combine music by Bach with the choruses (turbae) and recitatives of the St. Mark Passion by his contemporary and associate Reinhard Keiser (1674-1739) or with newly composed choruses or recitatives.

Our version follows exactly the text of the version of 1744, which narrates chapters 14 and 15 of the Gospel according to St. Mark, from Christ’s anointing at Bethany to his burial. In doing so, our focus is Bach’s music, adapting Picander’s final text to original sources taken from Bach’s own works, such as the Funeral Ode, the St. Matthew Passion, different versions of the St. John Passion and a number of cantatas:

– Three choruses and three arias taken from the Funeral Ode “Trauer-Ode” BWV 198/1 of 1727.

– Three arias taken from the first version of 1731 and two from the second version performed in 1744, with the texts adapted to arias from other cantatas (BWV 2/5*, 54/1*, 173/3*, 171/4* and from the second version of the St. John Passion BWV 245a/11* (transposed a minor third higher).

– 16 chorales following the indications in Picander’s libretto: six from the collection of chorales, three from the St. Matthew Passion, three from the St. John Passion and another four from various cantatas.

– For the eleven different choruses (turbæ), we have used Alexander Grychtolik’s proposal, based chiefly on the texts of St. Mark adapted to choruses from other Passions by Bach.

– Part One: 4 petits choeurs, or soloists’ choruses, from the St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244/4b/4d and 9b/9e**.

– Part Two: Of the 8 petits choeurs, 3 are from the St. John Passion BWV 245/21b*/25b*, 4 are from the St. Matthew Passion, and one is taken from the Christmas Oratorio BWV 248/45.   

– For the recitatives, we have also used Grychtolik’s proposal, based chiefly on the adaptation of texts from St. Mark to the music of the St. Matthew Passion (except for the three brief solos 22, 33 and 45, which are reconstructions).

We trust that our performance of the present reconstruction of this fascinating Passion will offer the most faithful and truly authentic approach possible, while recognizing that the mystery of the missing music remains unsolved and in the conviction that what Bach’s genius must have wrought is absolutely unimaginable.

JORDI SAVALL
Perth, 16th February, 2018

Translated by Jacqueline Minett