Theile: Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi

Album cover art for upc 761203528523
Label: CPO
Catalog: 555285-2

Volkmann, Christian; Mammel, Hans Jörg; Wörner, Dominik; Weser-Renaissance Bremen; Höchbauer, Joachim; Werneburg, Marie Luise; Erler, David; Cordes, Manfred; Bookmeyer, Johanna

At the fourth concert of our series “Music from Wolfenbüttel Castle” in 2019, the St. Matthew Passion Das Leiden und Sterben unseres Herrn Jesu Christi was performed and recorded. After the death of Johann Rosenmüller the Wolfenbüttel court selected a new chapel master in 1684: Johann Theile, who in the view of Duke Anton Ulrich and his musical advisors had always been a very well-qualified candidate. It is to be assumed that Theile’s experience in the field of the opera recommended him for the post of court music director in Wolfenbüttel – after all, during his tenure, which lasted from 1685 to 1689, a court opera theater was established at Wolfenbüttel Castle, where works by Lully and Italian composers were performed. The multifaceted richness of Theile’s compositional artistry is reflected in special measure in his St. Matthew Passion published in Lübeck in 1673. In it elements of the traditional church style are combined with progressive techniques of dramatic narration and meditative reflection in song. In their subtle emotionality, which is expressed both in the leading of the voice parts and in the design of the instrumental ritornellos, the arias and canzonettas invite listeners to engage in personal, highly emotional contemplation of the Biblical events, very much in the spirit of the Pietistic currents that then were taking shape. While most listeners will be familiar with the accompaniment of the words of Christ by stringed instruments from the Passions of Johann Sebastian Bach, the accompaniment of the Evangelist’s narrative with gambas in Theile’s Passion produces an entirely new and different effect.

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