Author Topic: James Runcie - BACH: The Great Passion  (Read 196 times)

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Offline Truthyness

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James Runcie - BACH: The Great Passion
« on: April 16, 2017, 02:23:02 PM »
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08m8q81#play

BACH: The Great Passion
Drama

Simon Russell Beale as Johann Sebastian Bach in a drama revealing how the St Mathew Passion was written, composed, rehearsed and performed in the build-up to its first performance in Leipzig on Good Friday 1727.

Entering the final weeks of rehearsals, Bach struggles to complete his Great Passion while he also runs a boarding school of fifty-five pupils (some of whom are hopeless at music) and supports a continuously pregnant wife.

James Runcie's play recreates the vicissitudes and exultations of his gargantuan undertaking, while retaining the intimacy, surprise and profound sympathy which is at the heart of the work.

Arriving in Leipzig in 1727, Bach, the newly appointed Kapellmeister, sets out his plan for the staging of the Passion and the story of the persecuted Christ. He intends that it will be directly personal music, written not in Latin but in German, using the words " We" and "I" for the choruses and arias. In a radical move for the time, he insists on the individual responsibility of every musician in the unfolding drama. The story, he insists, involves us all and saves us all from the terror of death.

An exhausted Bach is increasingly impatient during rehearsals, interrupting and bullying his performers; so much so that his wife Anna Magdalena, though pregnant with her second child, is called on to mediate and prevent a walk-out.

Anna Magdalena is the only one who can bring harmony to the home as well as to the music. But it's a race against time to be ready for the first performance.

Simon Russell Beale is one of the most notable actors of his generation and was himself a chorister at St Paul's Cathedral School in London. Melody Grove, as Anna Magdalena Bach, trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, where she won the James Bridie Gold Medal in 2009. She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Olivier Awards 2016 and won the Clarence Derwent Award 2016 for her performance as the female lead, alongside Mark Rylance, in Farinelli and the King,

The music and choral rehearsals for this production were recorded in Edinburgh's world famous Greyfriars Kirk, with the choir and musicians of the Dunedin Consort under the directorship of John Butt, and with the choristers St Mary's Music School and choirmaster Duncan Ferguson.

John Butt - Director and Organ/Harpsichord

Soloists:
Jacob Slater - Boy Soloist
Joanne Lunn - Soprano
Robert Davies - Bass

Chorus:
Joanne Lunn
Emily Mitchell
Esther Brazil
Rory McLeery
Kenny Reid
David Horton
Robert Davies
Jerome Knox

Children of St Mary's Music School Choir:
Taylor Torkington
Madeleine Gill
Mattea Sacco
Carlo Massimo

Choir Master: Duncan Ferguson

Huw Daniel - Violin
Katy Bircher - Flute
William Hunt - Violone

Produced by Marilyn Imrie
Directed by Eoin O'Callaghan
A Big Fish production for BBC Radio 4.

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Offline Truthyness

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Re: James Runcie - BACH: The Great Passion
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2017, 02:28:03 PM »
Ambitious, long but interesting.

It explains why I simply cannot digest the oratorio. To me the contrast (stark) is with Handel's Messiah of which, in 40 years, I am quite unable to tire.

There are naturally supreme moments in Bach's work but to me it grinds on an on ... as, no doubt, did the Passion itself.

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Offline Janaru

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Re: James Runcie - BACH: The Great Passion
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2017, 12:10:48 AM »
It's not Christmas for me until I hear "The Messiah". I enjoy Bach, as well, but I'm a Mozart fangirl, for the most part.

I'll check this one out, Tru. :)
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Offline Truthyness

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Re: James Runcie - BACH: The Great Passion
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2017, 01:49:24 AM »
Be nice to hear what you make of it. I'm with you on the Messiah ... though for some reason I believe tradition has it -on Blighty- to hear it at Easter tide.

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Offline Janaru

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Re: James Runcie - BACH: The Great Passion
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2017, 11:40:43 PM »
That works, too! :)
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