Dramatically astute interpretation of Bach’s almost-operatic masterpiece.

Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
March 31, 2015

‘Tis the season to be less than jolly (at least until Sunday) and while the general gloominess of ANZAC memorials seem to have rather hijacked Jesus this year, there is still room for a bit of passion as this taut reading of Bach’s first surviving outing in the genre proved. The St. John may not be as emotionally searching as the subsequent St. Matthew, but as Brett Weymark’s well- paced account eloquently demonstrated, this was perhaps the closest Johann Sebastian Bach came to writing an opera – and an intense, confrontational one at that.

In his excellent program note Weymark draws attention to the libretto’s apparent desire to make us reflect on the suffering of Christ and to see in it specific parallels to our own lives, filled as they are with daily horrors, images of violence and situations where the truth is not always what prevails. In short, this is a surprising contemporary work and one that in the right hands packs an emotional punch.

There is a terrific sense of the wheel of fate inexorably turning about the orchestral introduction and its heartfelt plea...