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On-line Book Review

YO TOMITA

FRONT COVER
OVERVIEW


Dimension: 19.7 x 16.4 x 1.5 cm

TITLE The St.Matthew Passion: A Text for Voices by John Reeves
PUBL. DETAILS Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2001. x + 108p. Hard back. Price: US$14.00  [£8.99].
ISBN 0-8028-3900-2
TO ORDER Eerdmanns Publishing Co., Alban Books, 79 Park Street, Bristol, BS1 5PF, UK
SUMMARY
DESCRIPTION Twenty-one verse meditations by John Reeves, exploring the tradition of liturgical responses to the passion.
WORKS COVERED BWV 244
READERSHIP Those listeners interested in Bach's St Matthew Passion
RESEARCH 
CONTRIBUTION
Not a research publication

   Contrary to one's expectation, this book does not discuss Bach's St Matthew Passion in a scholarly way. It consists of the author's twenty-one verse-meditations (which he claims to have been inspired by Bach's St Matthew Passion), free connecting prose and an English translation of the libretto of the passion. As for the translation, no reference is given where the translation is taken from or whether the author translated it by himself. I presume it is Reeves' original.

The poems, which are labelled in Roman numerals, are supposed to be heard as three distinctive voices, as the author explains:

Voice I speaks for the author, reflecting on his experience of hearing Bach in various cities of the modern world .... Voice II represents, imaginatively, the persona of Bach himself, speaking from the year 1729 [!] when he premiered his St. Matthew Passion in Leipzig .... Voice III stands for the whole body of worship in Western Christendom and evokes an earlier period that is sometimes called the "Age of Faith." These poems in the third voice reflect on the place of Christ's Passion in the life of the faithful and on its central role in the liturgy.

Contents
PREFACE
Budapest
Judenstrasse
Tenebrae
Ouro Prêto
Agnus Dei
Prague
The Lord's Prayer
Vigil
Gethsemane
Leipzig
Chorales
The Reproaches
Rome
Silence
Warsaw
The Stations of the Cross
London
The Tree
The Seven Last Words
Crucifixion
Toronto
THE LIBRETTO OF The St. Matthew Passion

an ideal gift to those in need of spiritual help

The cities (where the author visited and received the inspiration for the poems, and thus unrelated to the story of the Gospel in any way) function as units in which several poems are put together, supposedly representing a moment of Bach's response to the Passion as a believer and composer. These passages also relate the poems, one by one, to the point reached in the Passion story.

Clearly, this is not a book from which musicologists can learn either new facts about or new interpretation of the work. It is a 'creative work' written for a general, much wider readership--those who are seeking intimate, inspirational guidance for their listening of St Matthew Passion. If you have never listened to St Matthew Passion, it could be difficult to follow if your do not understand German well; for these people, this book will certainly be of enormous help.

At the time of personal crisis and hardship, Bach's St Matthew Passion can be a very effective medicine for your soul, too. You may find herein additional comfort from reading Reeves' meditative text. Produced in two colours (black and dark red), this beautiful book is an ideal gift to those in need of spiritual help.

Published on-line on 27 September 2001

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