For many years, the Concertgebouw Orchestra has been performing Bach's St John and St Matthew Passions in succession around Easter, to which new contemporary Passions are being added these days. Johann Sebastian Bach wrote his first Passion, the St John Passion, in 1724. The narrative of the Gospel according to St John emphasises the person of Christ as the Son of God and as the saviour of mankind. Accordingly, the emphasis in the St John Passion is less on Christ's suffering. Musically speaking, the St John Passion is a groundbreaking work, one which prepares the way for the larger St Matthew Passion, which he would write three years later.
This year, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is teaming up with the Netherlands Chamber Choir and Baroque specialist William Christie to perform the St John Passion. The French-American conductor, who is making his first appearance with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, likes to perform with young, up-and-coming talent. On this concert, too, he is surrounding himself with soloists with whom he has enjoyed collaborating in the past.