Samuel Boden, evangelist
Aarne Pelkonen, Jesus
Sandrine Piau, soprano
NN, alto
Robin Tritschler, tenor
Tomi Punkeri, bass
Finnish Baroque Orchestra
Topi Lehtipuu, conductor

Johann Sebastian Bach’s (1685–1750) St. John Passion is probably familiar to most people, but this work has rarely (if ever) been performed in Finland with such a spectacular lineup. The highly acclaimed English Archangelo Choir, second in FiBO’s “Top European Choirs” concert series, is part of Arcangelo, one of the world’s leading early music ensembles. The singers are active performers in their own right, many also singing with well-known ensembles such as the Monteverdi Choir. The Arcangelo Choir, FiBO and conductor Topi Lehtipuu, along with a stunning collection of soloists, will present this familiar passion in a new form as a great drama that will leave no one unmoved!

The St. John Passion was Bach’s first large-scale composition. It premiered at St. Nicholas’ Church in Leipzig on Good Friday in 1724. Bach started his work as the Cathedral’s kantor only ten months earlier. With this St. John Passion, Bach began annual performances of his major sacred works, for which he began to prepare as early as the year after his appointment.

The passion has survived in five different versions, all due to modifications made by Bach over the course of approximately 25 years. The reason for the changes was probably the inconsistency of the text. In addition to text from the Bible, Bach also uses text from other sources. The different versions resulted from Bach’s attempts to try different structural solutions to make the work more dramatically cohesive. Because the text is not as polished as the St. Matthew Passion, the St. John Passion is considered by some to be less important. The St. John Passion is shorter and more impulsive than the St. Matthew Passion, but it does not fall short in terms of expression and compositional skill. It recounts the Easter story from the capture of Jesus to his burial through skilful arias, devout chorales and flamboyant choral movements. The work is characterized by its dark intensity, expressive ferocity and wide range of affects. The power of Jesus’ story of suffering is always present.

In FiBO’s “Top European Choirs” series, the orchestra collaborates with world-renowned international choirs from 2022 to 2025. The Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation support the series from 2023 to 2025. The first concert in this series took place in February 2022 with Det Norske Solistkor.

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