13 July 2022

Markus and (Lukas) passions of Bach

I've been listening to the Jordi Savall recording of his own reconstruction of Bach's lost Markus passion, BWV 247. It's thought that most of the music in the lost original came from the Trauerode, BWV 198, and there are a number of other cantata sources. So most of the music in the reconstruction is familiar to Bachists from other sources, but some of the recitative is interpolated and composed. The libretto, by Picander, who wrote a lot of Bach's cantata librettos, survives. Anyway, it's sparkling and delightful. Seems rather cheerful for a passion, by and large (unlike both John and Matthew), but it's a very welcome addition to the Bach discography, even though it is a pastiche. I am a Bach nut from way back, so I've heard most of the cantatas several to many times, and recognize, at least "oh, that's familiar," most of the music. 

(The same cannot be said for the Lukas passion, BWV 246. It exists mostly in Bach's own hand, and he did perform it in 1730. But it was obvious to Mendelssohn in the 1830s, and is still obvious to anyone familiar with the music of Bach, that this is not Bach. Not even the 4 part chorales are up to to his standards; none of them. But it's pleasant enough middle of the road 1730 era Lutheran church music-by-an-unknown-contemporary-of-Bach. I have several recordings of Telemann, Buxtehude, etc. cantatas. This finds a place in that milieu, albeit not as good as the best of their music even. (I'd compare it to Zelenka, but as a Catholic heavily influenced by Italian opera, his music is very different). 

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