Bach’s St John Passion, the first of the two extant Bach passions and a musical wonder, was first performed in Leipzig’s St Nicholas Church on Good Friday 1724. In 1723 Bach had succeeded Johann Kuhnau as Thomaskantor in Leipzig (Cantor at St. Thomas). In the following years (from 1725 to 1749) he made changes to the work for subsequent performances. After his death, most of Bach’s works were forgotten. The fact that today we can enjoy Bach’s music in all its genius is something we owe to the enthusiasm of Mendelssohn. Schumann was equally enthusiastic: Do you know Bach’s St John Passion, also called the little Passion? Do you not also find it much bolder, more powerful and more poetic than the St. Matthew? This one seems to me not to be free of diffuseness and to be exceedingly long, but the other – how compact, how thoroughly genial, and of what art!

Philippe Herreweghe is one of the most prominent pioneers of Early Music. He has been involved with Bach since his musical beginnings. At the age of 22, Herreweghe had already internalised Bach’s music, and yet he still finds it difficult to hit the heart of a work by Bach […] works of genius and mystery – works of art that transcend all social and temporal frames. You can study them all your life; there are no definitive answers.

It will be the first time he has conducted the St John Passion in Innsbruck.

Maximilian Schmitt – Evangelist (tenor)
Kresimir Strazanac – Jesus (bass)
Dorothee Mields – soprano
Damien Guillon – countertenor
Robin Tritschler – tenor
Peter Kooij – bass

Collegium Vocale Gent – choir and orchestra
Conductor: Philippe Herreweghe