We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
We recently heard a performance of Bach's St. John Passion, with the same small-size choir that Bach had (but with far better voices now, for sure), and with the original instruments. Bach pretty much always bitched about the lousy choirs he had to work with. Bitched about the musicians too.
Loveliest live music I have heard in a while and, even though you know the story by heart, and when Pilate asks Jesus Was ist Wahrheit? you get a chill. Pilate was a good guy, really.
Bach wrote St. John Passion in 1774 to be performed on Good Friday. The experts say it is as close as Bach got to operatic music. It was designed as an entire Lutheran church service, with a break between Part 1 and Part 2 for a homily. Some of the choruses were familiar German hymns. It's a shame to perform it outside a church.
As with all ambitious and complex music like this, it takes me more than 3 hearings to begin to get it.
A question to which I cannot find an answer is whether Bach wrote the notes for the recitative sections, especially by Evangelist, or whether they are singer's choice. Can a reader find out?
Below, St. John Passion with a larger choir and orchestra than Bach had. Why did Gardiner use an organ instead of a harpsichord in this performance?
The recording I have of St. John's Passion, with KIng's College Choir and The Brandenburg Consort, is also with organ. This piece is often performed in churches, which are more likely to have an organ than a harpsichord.
Conclusion: Bach wrote it for organ.
I am not a particular fan of original instruments per se - though I do like Jordi Salvall's recordings. If different instrumentation makes a work sound better, I am all in favor. Bach is particularly apt for changing instruments, due to the mathematical precision of his compositions. Look at what Leopold Stokowski did. Or Canadian Brass with Art of Fugue.