Jordi Savall / La Capella Reial de Catalunya / Le Concert des Nations / Dávid Szigetvári / Konstantin Wolff

J.S. Bach: Markus Passion BWV 247 (1744)

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Seeing the graphics for this release by Jordi Savall and his Capella Royale de Catalunya and Concert des Nations orchestra, you may not have realized that Bach composed a Markus Passion or St. Mark's Passion to go with his better-known examples. He did, although to say that he "wrote" one would be wrong: a Markus Passion was performed in Leipzig in 1731, and a libretto by Picander (Christian Friedrich Henrici) exists in two different versions. But there is no score. It is thus surmised that Bach, or someone in his circle, put together a pastiche of suitable music that would fit Picander's text, basing it either on Bach's own earlier music (mostly cantata sections) or music of someone else, perhaps Reinhard Keiser. Attempted realizations of this pastiche go back as far as the 1960s, with one notable version led by Ton Koopman in 1999. Savall's version is all Bach, and it's apparently the first one to take the revised Picander libretto into account; presumably the goal of the tinkering was to make the whole thing sound more natural. It still sounds like a bit of a mishmash, but the exercise is certainly an interesting one; Bach often recycled earlier compositions, although perhaps not to this extent. Even so, the process attempted by Savall and his musicological team is essentially one of trying to reproduce Bach's own thinking. The St. Mark libretto is strong on chorales and narrative recitatives, with comparatively few arias, which made Savall's task more difficult. Yet there are individual numbers that come off well: sample the duet with countertenor (which admittedly comes from the St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244). Savall is hardly a Bach specialist, but he produces a warm sound with a fairly large chorus and soloists with the proper feeling of intimacy; his style in Bach is a bit reminiscent of John Eliot Gardiner's. Not essential Savall, but for serious Bach fans this is an interesting experiment with new material.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Markus Passion BWV 247
1 05:23
2 00:23
3 00:10
4 00:35
5 00:27
6 00:49
7 02:19
8 00:43
9 00:14
10 00:20
11 02:10
12 00:07
13 00:10
14 00:46
15 02:45
16 07:00
17 01:00
18 00:58
19 01:01
20 04:37
21 01:27
22 01:01
23 00:58
24 00:48
25 02:13
26 03:08
27 00:59
28 06:23
29 01:12
30 01:03
31 00:34
32 05:21

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Markus Passion BWV 247
1 04:41
2 01:09
3 00:32
4 00:09
5 00:52
6 00:37
7 01:07
8 01:17
9 00:32
10 00:08
11 01:02
12 01:12
13 00:11
14 01:00
15 01:01
16 01:34
17 01:36
18 01:33
19 00:56
20 00:12
21 01:00
22 04:42
23 00:49
24 00:16
25 00:18
26 01:06
27 01:40
28 01:10
29 00:55
30 00:37
31 00:09
32 01:38
33 01:27
34 01:03
35 00:05
36 00:05
37 00:49
38 03:50
39 02:28
40 00:43
41 00:54
42 05:43
blue highlight denotes track pick