A timely repeat of this 20th-century minimalist masterpiece: Arvo Pärt’s setting of the St John Passion is a mesmerizing minimalist masterpiece – with the most concentrated of musical means Pärt communicates the depth and universal spirituality of the Passion story.

The music of Arvo Pärt shimmers like the surface of the sea in sunlight: there is almost infinite and unpredictable detail: "Tintinnabuli is the mathematically exact connection from one line to another... ...tintinnabuli is the rule where the melody and the accompaniment [accompanying voice]...is one. One plus one, it is one – it is not two. This is the secret of this technique." This collaboration between The Choir of Trinity College, Melbourne and The Song Company is a presentation of the minimalist masterpiece that is Arvo Pärt’s setting of the St John Passion. The words are at the heart: the music allows the listener to follow the text and enter into the story for themselves. Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi secundum Joannem, or Passio for short, divides the text of the St John Passion into a narrative – sung by the Evangelist Quartet with accompanying instrumental quartet – and spoken interjections by Jesus, Pilate, and all the other characters including the crowd – sung by the soloists and chorus with organ. Every bar is instantly recognizable and yet the different episodes in the narrative vary enormously in emotional intensity and acoustic texture. The pauses are just as much part of the music, as Pärt says: "I have discovered that it is enough when a single note is beautifully played. This one note, or a silent beat, or a moment of silence, comforts me."

"Listening back to this performance", says conductor Antony Pitts, "gives me a new appreciation of the monolithic achievement of Passio. It still stands out for me as one of the most telling works of the late 20th century and once again draws me – and all the performers and audience – into an extraordinarily emotive soundworld, uncannily underlining the text of the St John Passion from ominous start to luminescent finish.”

The Song Company and the Choir of Trinity College, Melbourne performing Arvo Pärt's Passio in Trinity College Chapel in April 2019

Susannah Lawergren | Anna Fraser | Owen Elsley | Lucien Fischer

VIOLIN Elizabeth Sellars | OBOE Jasper Ly | CELLO Richard Vaudrey | BASSOON Jye Todorov

Christopher Watson

Andrew O'Connor

John O'Donnell

Antony Pitts

This performance of Passio Domini nostri Jesu Christi (secundum Joannem) by Arvo Pärt is given by permission of Hal Leonard Australia Pty. Ltd. exclusive agent for Universal Edition of Vienna.


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