BACH : MATTÄUS-PASSION
Par Aapo Häkkinen
Bach’s music has travelled with me all my life. Like many of us, I have heard and performed his St Matthew Passion many more times than Bach himself ever did.
I wasn’t yet a teenager when Roger Norrington wrote – in notes to his first recording of Beethoven’s symphonies that did much to shape our generation’s musical literacy – ‘The point about playing Beethoven on old instruments, of course, is to make him sound new.’
How obvious, yet how paradoxical! And how not to think of Bach here …
‘Why does a melodic line, as beautiful as it may be, even a melodic phrase of Chopin, for instance, become tiresome while the melodic line of Bach can withstand more severe tests? Because there is something eternal in Bach’s music, something that makes us wish to hear again what has just been played. This renewal gives us a glimpse of eternity.’ (Wanda Landowska)
A propos St Matthew Passion, it even touches me how Picander’s and Bach’s imaginative display of different animals invites resonance in our daily lives – there we have the lambs and the doves, the snakes and the tigers, even the unwavering cock – yet most of us rather like the forsaken chicks …
Perhaps this is paradoxical enough to have some validity as a personal introduction to the glorious work that, in the words of Leonard Bernstein, ‘started me off on my own private passion for Bach.’