‘Getting a small insight into the universe of John’s knowledge of Bach… is truly something else’

Principal bassist Christine Sticher talks about her favourite moments with Dunedin Consort.

As Dunedin Consort’s principal bassist, how many Matthew Passions have you performed with us? Is there any one performance that stands out?

I have played in at least 12 performances of Dunedin’s Matthew Passion — in seasons 2014, 2016 and 2017. There isn’t one performance that stands out for me, but rather the rehearsals with John Butt. Of course we are performing the Passion amazingly — that special performance quality is another Dunedin treat. But getting a small insight into the universe of John’s knowledge of Bach, this incredible generosity with which he carries his genius mind, that is truly something else.

Like any Passion, the Matthew Passion can feel like a singer-centric, singer-led work. How do you see the instrumentalists sparkle throughout it? Are there any moments that you think we should listen out for?

The soprano aria, ‘Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben’. Despite having so many musicians on the stage, this aria has the intimate orchestration of soprano, flute and two oboes da caccia. The chords create ringing overtones in your ears and in a weird way they blur the music while simultaneously amplifying the message. It is my favourite moment.

If you could play or sing any moment in the entire work, what would you choose and why?

The chorales. All of them. Choir and orchestra play the same parts. The combination of satisfying 4-part voice-leading with that particular text makes your heart choke a bit.

Join Dunedin Consort for Matthew Passion this April.

The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh — Thursday 6 April, 7pm
New Auditorium, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall — Friday 7 April, 7pm