Friday, March 12, 2010 7:30 PM
St. Mark Passion
Come to the Cathedral and join us for the third in the series of Lenten Concerts given by the National Cathedral’s concert ensemble, Cathedra. Tonight sees the U.S. premiere of a new edition of the St. Mark Passion by J.S. Bach. Only a broad outline of Bach’s intention for this work has survived. However, the scholastic endeavor of musicologists has produced a number of reconstructions of this work. Tonight Cathedra will perform the most recent edition by Malcolm Bruno.
Records exist for the performance of the St. Mark Passion—Bach’fifth and final setting of the Passion text—in Leipzig on Good Friday 1731. Bruno’s edition retains the dramatic narrative of the Evangelist through text spoken by an actor, rather than resorting to musical pastiche or incorporating borrowed material. Bruno draws from Bach’s Trauer Ode, BWV 198, to arrive at this edition; Wilhelm Rust noted in the nineteenth century that both works shared a unique orchestration and that the meters’ scansion matched.
Bruno’s setting is certainly a considerable departure from the music Bach performed in 1731, but it represents a faithful, if partial, version of Bach’s setting. Listeners will benefit from a narrative that is not only accurate buy speaks to us directly in our own vernacular tongue, as Bach’s Evangelist would have done for his German Lutheran congregations in the eighteenth century.