When Sir Colin Davis was asked to select a composer to write a new work for his 80th birthday he chose James MacMillan, about to celebrate his own 50th birthday. MacMillan had previously considered writing a passion and used the opportunity of the commission to produce a setting based on the Gospel of St John.The result is a highly dramatic passion, fusing MacMillan's own Catholic faith, compositional style and musical influences with the long tradition of settings for the passion of Christ in both the Catholic and Lutheran faiths. In addition to the choir and orchestra, MacMillan uses a small choir of professional singers to provide the narration and a solitary baritone soloist to portray Christus.The work received its première on 27th April 2008 at the Barbican, in London, and follows the LSOLive release of two of James MacMillan's earlier works: The World's Ransoming and The Confession of Isobel Gowdie in January 2008.
…The performances, sung without a chorus but played with a string complement numbering 4-4-2-2-1, are, if not overwhelming, entirely convincing. The four soloists manage their roles admirably, and the recorded sound is excellent. (…) Incidentally, buried in the notes is an eye-popping statement that Montréal Baroque “has undertaken Bach’s complete cantatas in a pared-down version, with a one-per-part choir, as was the practice in Lutheran Germany of the time.” That would be a first, since all of the other complete and on-going series employ small choirs. There was no mention of boy sopranos.
John St. John aka Roland Hanneman is a New Age, Ambient and Chillout music composer.
John St. John - The Wolf (1995). The warm summer wind carries to you in perfect harmony the haunting howling of the wolf and the soothing melodies of the piano, woodwins, and strings creating an atmosphere of total peace and tranquility. A sense of profound relaxationn fills your mind and body. This is a time to deam, to reflect… and to rejoice in the majesty of nature…
Performances of Bach's St. John Passion, BWV 245, with these forces or close to them have become an annual Eastertime tradition in London, and this recording is guaranteed an appreciative audience. Certain details relate specifically to this tradition: several chorales are sung unaccompanied, but an accompanied version is included at the end for those who reject the dramatization.