The Matthew Passion

Composed in 1727 Bach’s Passion is at the centre of his great religious works. Undoubtedly a Christian, Bach believed, as far as we can tell, that he was creating music that glorified his god. As an atheist I simply replace ‘religious’ with transcendent, thus apart from the sheer turgid nature of some of the text I can enjoy Bach’s wonderful music without the need to supplicate myself before a mythical super-natural monster. Some have argued that this music simply couldn’t exist without the religion it is pinned to, probably not as the text is at its core, but there are many examples of the transcendent in Bach’s instrumental music, without any such religious text being anywhere in sight, or earshot. Listen here Erbarme dich mein gott  for a truly amazing aria from The Matthew Passion, featuring the contralto Delphine Galou.


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