Klaas Hoek made a carefully abridged edition of Bach’s St John Passion, which was performed in 2016-17 in Maastricht, Utrecht and Amsterdam by the Asko Chamber Choir conducted by Jos Leussink.
In this edition all arias have been omitted. “As beautiful as they are,” says Hoek, “the arias are not an organic part of the St John Passion and that has already been documented and discussed in the 19th century.”
These considerations play an important role in Hoek’s edition, in which he replaced the arias with three new Intermezzi, composed by Willem Boogman, that take over and actualise the meditative role of the arias.
But Hoek also reduced the line-up: the orchestra has been replaced by string quartet and harmonium and the number of soloists is limited to an Evangelist (tenor), Christ (mezzo-soprano) and Pilatus (bass).
This choice was prompted by the in-depth study of performance practice in which Hoek distances himself from the pulse-driven “highway culture”. Instead, his edition provides innumerable subtle clues to the development of sound, which comes into its own especially in the recitatives and choirs.
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