Simon Rattle, Berlin Philharmonic Bringing Bach's 'St. Matthew Passion' to Park Avenue Armory for Lincoln Center's White Light Festival

By Ian Holubiak on Mar 03, 2014 09:24 PM EST

Johann Sebastian Bach, that wretched old genius. Not only did he scoff at an entire theory of musical temperament, he did so while enriching the overall musical landscape of the Teutonic Baroque.

A brainy bastard, yes, Ol' Bach didn't want to compose operas because of the audience's passivity--the way listeners consumed the idiom was done without engaging the art, itself. (Having fathered some 20 children, you can imagine what a Bach admonishing was like.)

His St. Matthew Passion, then, is "contemplative, a study in suffering and transcendence...tighter and more angular, a battlefield of action and reaction," writes Zachary Woolfe in the New York Times.

So, Bach hated opera because of its lazy audience. And yet his most operatic work, the St. Matthew Passion, constantly engages, asking questions about the role of an audience in that very production.

If only there were a Socratic maestro--and a German ensemble--who could highlight such a line of inquiry? 

Ahh, yes, Simon Rattle's Berliner Philharmoniker. And a talented cast of voices from the Berlin Radio Choir.

Their Bach will travel to New York in October for two performances at the Park Avenue Armory to open Lincoln Center's White Light Festival. Even better? The Berlin Philh will also make a four-concert appearance at Carnegie Hall.

Let's just hope those damn budget cuts don't affect the premiere, right?

It would be a shame not to hear this...for both Bach's sake and our own.

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TagsThe Berlin Philharmonic, Johann Sebastian Bach, Simon Rattle, St. Matthew Passion, Zachary Woolfe, Carnegie Hall, Park Avenue Armory, Lincoln Center, White Light Festival

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