Last night’s St Matthew Passion: the very highest of high art

Bach’s St Matthew Passion at the Barbican in London last night was the very highest of high art.

Composer: JS Bach is the Main Man, the patron saint of all musicians. This is one of his finest works.

Orchestra: Leipzig Gewandhaus – the definitive interpreters of Bach’s sacred music.

Choirs: St Thomas’ Boys Choir (Leipzig) and Tolz Boys Choir (Bavaria). I doubt I’ll ever witness a superior choral performance. Each passage made you feel you were entering Heaven itself.

Soloists, notably Johannes Chum (Evangelist): outstanding.

Music does not come any more inspiring than this.

Bach’s St Matthew Passion was the second of a trio of sacred music gigs for Easter that I’ll be attending. To come: Bach’s St John Passion at King’s College Cambridge on Wednesday.

I’ll have to reconsider my policy of buying cheapskate seats at the Barbican, though.

Last night I was flanked by two objectionable septuagenarians. The one on the left – the greasy, lank long grey hair was the giveaway – stunk; his clothes clearly hadn’t had much contact with a washing machine.

The obese boy on my right had serious breathing problems, which intruded badly in the quieter passages, especially the soloists’ arias.

I’m all for access, but unfortunates with seriously anti-social conditions should be encouraged to stay home. Or someone less tolerant might be provoked to throw them over the balcony.

Gerry Smith

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