All of Bach Is Putting Videos of 1,080 Bach Performances Online: Watch the First 53 Recordings and the St. Matthew Passion

Last year we fea­tured All of Bach, a site that, in the full­ness of time, will allow you to watch the Nether­lands Bach Soci­ety per­form each and every one of Bach’s com­po­si­tions, com­plete­ly for free. Back when we first post­ed about it, the site offered only five per­for­mances to watch, but now you’ll find a full 53 wait­ing there, ready for you to enjoy. Just above, we have BWV 565, “Toc­ca­ta And Fugue In D Minor,” one of Bach’s most famous organ works, thanks in no small part to the fre­quen­cy with which it appears on tele­vi­sion, video game and movie sound­tracks.

Every Fri­day brings a new per­for­mance of anoth­er Bach piece — until, that is, the Nether­lands Bach Soci­ety gets through all 1080 of them. But between now and then, they’ve also got spe­cial musi­cal events planned, such as a spe­cial per­for­mance of the whole of the St. Matthew Pas­sion sched­uled for this Fri­day, April 3. (You can now find it online here.) It will mark the prob­a­ble 288th anniver­sary of the piece’s debut, an event which musi­cal his­to­ri­ans think hap­pened in Leipzig’s St. Thomas Church, where Bach served as can­tor and cho­rus direc­tor.

“Luther­ian sever­i­ty lies at the core of Bach’s St. Matthew Pas­sion,” writes New York­er music crit­ic Alex Ross. “The immen­si­ty of Bach’s design — his use of a dou­ble cho­rus and a dou­ble orches­tra; his inter­weav­ing of New Tes­ta­ment sto­ry­telling and lat­ter-day med­i­ta­tions; the dra­mat­ic, almost oper­at­ic qual­i­ty of the choral writ­ing; the inva­sive beau­ty of the lament­ing arias, which give the sense that Christ’s death is the acutest of per­son­al loss­es — has the effect of pulling all of mod­ern life into the Pas­sion scene. By forc­ing the singers to enact both the arro­gance of the tor­men­tors and the help­less­ness of the vic­tims, Bach under­lines Luther’s point about the inescapa­bil­i­ty of guilt. A great ren­di­tion of the St. Matthew Pas­sion should have the feel­ing of an eclipse, of a mas­sive body throw­ing the world into shad­ow.”

In order to pre­pare your­self for this momen­tous musi­cal event, have a look at the teas­er for it in the mid­dle of the post, and the behind-the-scenes doc­u­men­tary Clos­er to Bach in Naar­den just above, which reveals the rela­tion­ship the musi­cians of the Nether­lands Bach Soci­ety have to the St. Matthew Pas­sion. As you can see, they’ve tak­en pains to make sure that this Good Fri­day will, for music-lovers, prove to be a very good Fri­day indeed.

Find the Matthew Pas­sion on All of Bach this Fri­day — the same place where you can find new record­ings each week.

Update: The Matthew Pas­sion is now online here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

All of Bach for Free! New Site Will Put Per­for­mances of 1080 Bach Com­po­si­tions Online

A Big Bach Down­load: All of Bach’s Organ Works for Free

The Genius of J.S. Bach’s “Crab Canon” Visu­al­ized on a Möbius Strip

Video: Glenn Gould Plays the Gold­berg Vari­a­tions by J.S. Bach

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture as well as the video series The City in Cin­e­ma and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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