Review: Berlin Philharmonic’s “St. Matthew Passion” at the Armory

Posted on: October 10, 2014

In Wednesday’s (10/8) New York Times, Anthony Tommasini reviews the Berlin Philharmonic’s performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion at the Park Avenue Armory, conducted by Simon Rattle and directed by Peter Sellars and performed twice this week as part of Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival. “The long, daunting passion is a ritualized form of participatory theater. Bach wrenches you out of your comfort zone as an audience member and pulls you into this story of faith and doubt, trust and betrayal, community and mob chaos.… This ‘St. Matthew Passion’ was presented within the vast space of the armory’s Drill Hall on a stage of intersecting wood platforms.… The audience was in tiers of seats surrounding the stage. Sometimes chorus members took places among the audience. A man sitting quietly near you would turn out to the the singer portraying Pontius Pilate during the trial of Jesus. I have seldom felt so much a participant in the musical drama of this staggering masterpiece. … [At the end,] there was silence in the hall for quite a while, until the house lights dimmed and an enormous ovation began.”

Posted October 10, 2014