Ach Herr, lass dein lieb Engelein - n.40 Johannes Passion BWV 245 (J. S. Bach)

By: Bach, J.S.

Sung By: Matthew Curtis

Runtime: 2 minutes

Major work: St. John Passion (J.S. Bach)

Publisher: Bärenreiter-Verlag

Publisher#: BA.BA5037-90

Language: German

Instrumentation: Full Orchestra


It was written during Bach's first year as director of church music in Leipzig and was first performed on April 7, 1724, at Good Friday Vespers at the St. Nicholas Church.[3]

The structure of the work falls in two halves, intended to flank a sermon. The anonymous libretto draws on existing works (notably Brockes') and is compiled from recitatives and choruses narrating the Passion of Christ as told in the Gospel of John, ariosos and arias reflecting on the action, and chorales using hymn tunes and texts familiar to a congregation of Bach's contemporaries.[4] Compared with the St Matthew Passion, the St John Passion has been described as more extravagant, with an expressive immediacy, at times more unbridled and less "finished."[5]

The work is most often heard today in the 1724 version although Bach revised it in 1725, 1732, and 1749, adding several numbers. "O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß", a 1725 replacement for the opening chorus, found a new home in the 1727 St Matthew Passion but several arias languish in appendices to modern editions.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750) is considered one of the central figures of the Baroque era. Bach was born in Eisenach, Germany, to a musical family. His brother likely introduced him to music theory at a very young age, and all of his many uncles were professional musicians. His early musical successes paved the way for a career as an organist and composer. Bach never received the international acclaim that was showered upon Händel (the other preeminent composer of the late Baroque), but his genius was fully recognized in the years following his death and his musical legacy is now undisputed. Though he never lived outside of modern-day Germany, his style drew from dance rhythms across Europe and is notable for not only its technical mastery but also its emotional poignancy and intellectualism. His compositions span many genres but Bach’s contrapuntal genius is common throughout. His keyboard works have been studied by virtually every generation of young pianists since the 1800s, and his sacred choral works (including the St. John Passion and the monumental Mass in B Minor) are among the most beloved pieces in the standard choral repertoire.
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