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C.P.E. Bach’s luminously inward account of the Passion could not be sung in its intended location because of its use of female singers. It was first performed in 1770 in the church of a prison-cum-poorhouse and was performed annually at the Zucht- und Spinnhaus for the next 15 years. It is the female voices that shine here, conjuring up the emotional and spiritual dynamic of the Crucifixion. Bach’s re-use of a libretto by Anna Luisa Karsch shows how flexible and emotive the poet’s words are; but it is the performance by these C.P.E. Bach specialists, inspired by the composer’s 300th anniversary, that makes the music shine and reflect its creator’s wish to ‘set the heart in motion’.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica

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