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St. Matthew Passion Is Highly Worthwhile

Nov 22, 2013

A look around Belk Theater solved the mystery of why Bach's St. Matthew Passion had never been performed there before. The upstage filled with two choruses, the Oratorio Singers of Charlotte and the Charlotte Children's Choir, but in front of them, the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Oratorio director Scott Allen Jarrett, was conspicuously abbreviated, shorn of all its brass, percussion, and clarinets. More to the point, the missing instrumental artillery did not seem to lessen the impression among CSO subscribers that Bach's sacred oratorio was a formidable, forbidding monument.

There appeared to be more empty seats in the orchestra and the grand tier than even concerts of Shostakovich's or Schoenberg's music can produce. It's impossible to say whether the biblical nature of the music or its length was perceived to be most intimidating. Notwithstanding the program notes cribbed from the Atlanta Symphony, which pinpointed the length of the work at 2'11", this edited version did not adjourn until after 11:00pm, clipping a mere 20 minutes or so from the recorded version I have directed by Philippe Herreweghe on Harmonia Mundi.

Full article at: CVNC