FOR EASTER this year the city of Leipzig, Germany, shared some of its rich musical history with Bratislava when one of the oldest German choirs, Robert-Franz-Sing-akademie Halle, performed Johann Sebastian Bach’s St John Passion at the Reduta.

The choir, founded in 1814, sang with soloists Julia Kirchner (soprano), Inga Jäger (alto), Marcus Ullmann (tenor), Christian Zenker (tenor), Stefan Heinemann (baritone) and Stephan Storck (bass), accompanied by the Slovak Philharmonic, with Petr Wagner on viola da gamba, Ján Miškovič on cembalo and Agi Ferjenčíková on small organ, conducted by Frank-Steffen Elster.

The works performed at the Reduta included the St John Passion, one of the two fully preserved “Passions” by Bach, written for the Good Friday vesper service. This was performed on Wednesday, April 16, and Holy Thursday, April 17, on the eve of Good Friday.

The composition re-tells in detail the trial and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, based on the 18th and 19th chapters of St John’s Evangel, with excerpts from St Matthew’s Evangel and older arias by poets Heinrich Brockes and Christian Heinrich Postel.

The St John Passion, one of Bach’s most impressive oratorios, has been revised and re-written several times.

It was first performed in St Nicolaus Church in Leipzig (where Bach then lived and worked) in 1724. In Bratislava, it received a standing ovation.