The eternal St Matthew Passion, where Bach's art unfolds in its full choral and orchestral splendour
Sung in German with French subtitles
In early eighteenth-century Germany, it became customary to perform a major choral work based on the Christ's Passion every Good Friday. In the few short years between the St John Passion (1723-24) and the St Matthew Passion (1727), Bach constantly expanded his musical experience and made numerous innovations in his second major Passion. He gave the work maximum depth of sound by adding a third choir, and made the recitatives more varied. Bach's masterpiece is virtually the last in a very long list of Passions to do the history of music proud. Barring a few rare exceptions, those that followed were not Passions in the liturgical sense that Bach intended, and paved the way for the oratorio form.