DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

LEBRECHT LISTENS | La Capella Ducale's St John’s Passion Doesn't Get Liftoff

By Norman Lebrecht on July 6, 2018

Handel: Johannes-Passion; Choralkantate Ach Herr, mich armen Sunder

Georg Friedrich Händel: Johannes-Passion (CPO)

★★ (out of five)

Did you know Handel wrote a St John’s Passion? Me, neither, and I’m still not convinced.

This score was discovered in the Berlin Royal Library in the mid-19th-century by the authoritative Friedrich Chrysander and included in the even more authoritative Halle Handel Edition. But there have always been doubts about dates and style. The credited librettist, Christian Heinrich Postel, died of consumption in Hamburg in 1705, when Handel was 20. Handel knew Postel’s work and may have asked for a text, but Postel worked mostly for Telemann and if he found time at all for Handel it would have been only with offcuts.

Handel never referred again to this score and it doesn’t sound anything like his first opera, Almira, which was staged that selfsame year. Handel was writing in Italian mode and this music is as German as it gets.

And dull with it. There’s an occasional wistful violin solo and soprano aria, but the genius of Handel — his gift for rocket-boosting the mundane into the sublime — is absent. Roland Wilson and the Capella Ducale do their damnedest to get liftoff, but there’s only one St John’s Passion and it belongs to the cantor of Leipzig. This is tepid stuff.

Georg Friedrich Händel: Johannes-Passion (CPO) is available from amazon.ca, iTunes and Spotify.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

SCRUTINY | Sondra Radvanovsky Gives Magnificent Koerner Hall Recital

By Joseph So on November 26, 2018

Sondra Radvanovsky, arguably the most eagerly awaited vocal recital of the 2018-19 season, dazzles with a masterclass of great singing at Koerner Hall.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

SCRUTINY | National Ballet Of Canada's Mixed Program Strikes A Balance Between Old And New

By Paula Citron on November 22, 2018

The National Ballet of Canada's mixed program is for all tastes. Traditionalists have their tutus, and modernists their rough edge.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

SCRUTINY | We Came For Boléro But Stayed For City Noir

By Stephan Bonfield on November 22, 2018

While Ravel's Bolero was eaten up by a cavernous Roy Thomson Hall, it was the TSO's performance of John Adams' retro-styled City Noir that won us over.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.