Arvo Pärt: Passio

Arvo Pärt Passio

Arvo Pärt: Passio

Year of composition:
Passio Domini nostri Jesu Christi secundum Joannem
Scored for:
for solos, mixed choir, instrumental quartet and organ
Arvo Pärt
Jesus, baritone Pilate, tenor evangelists: soprano, alto (countertenor), tenor, bass
ob, bsn, vln(1), vc(1), org
Instrumentation details:
Table of contents:
Passio (Passio Domini nostri Jesu Christi secundum Joannem)
Bayerischer Rundfunk
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The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

Work introduction

Passio has a very important place in our musical heritage as the Hilliard Ensemble. It was really the defining moment that introduced us fully to Arvo Pärt’s music. And it was performing Passio, coming to know and understand Passio, that sort of sealed our relationship – the realisation that this is really something unique.

If you look at the score of Passio and analyse it, it is very, very spartan, very sparse in the sense that there are actually only three keys used. And then at the very end, just for the very end, at the critical moment when Christ is on the cross and is about to die, suddenly, the four Evangelists come together on one unison A-note. And then there’s this silence, this death – he gave up the ghost, we’d say, his spirit isn’t in him, he gave up his spirit. And then there’s this extraordinary moment when the choir and everybody comes in, in D-major. So this chord comes in and it just goes right through your body! It’s an amazing moment – every time, it sends shivers down my spine. It’s like the richest Brahms you’ve ever heard, and you realise that there is life afterwards. This is the most important moment, the death, but it's actually looking forward, it’s for a reason, it’s a positive thing, and I think that this last page is the most stunning page of music you could ever wish to hear.

David James on Passio

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World première

München (DE)
Gordon Kember
Main soloists:
Wilfried Vorwold, B; Heinrich Weber, T; Vokalquartett: Karin Hautermann, S; Renate Freyer, A; Anton Rosner, T; Guido Kaiser, B; Rudolf Joachim Koeckert, Vl; Walter Clement, Ob; Peter Wöpke, Vc; Achim von Lorne, Fg; Elmar Schloter, Orgel

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