Until recently the only available edition of the Handel Passion of Christ in English was a heavily truncated version published by Oxford University Press, containing about a quarter of the work. The nineteenth century Handel Edition was supplied with an English translation of such dubious quality that it would be impossible to make use of it these days.
There were several performances of the work in England by specialist Bach groups in the 1960s and 1970s which is where I first got to know it. Since the 1980s I myself have not sung it again, and I know of very few other performances. Yet it is a great work, showing a different side to Handel than that found in his great cycle of English oratorios commenced some twenty years later.
He was a young composer in 1715, making a splendid career in London, when he set the German text supplied by his Hamburg friend Johann Mattheson. Anyone who knows the works that Handel was creating at this time, the Chandos Anthems, Acis and Galatea etc will find the same vibrant and varied outpouring of original music here – and even some echoes of those very works, showing that they were all being forged at around the same fertile time. Its recent neglect in England has been because of the lack of any complete English-language edition.
My new version is based on recent scholarship undertaken by modern German editors, and to this I have added my new English text. As a result of my work translating Bach’s two great Passions, the St John and St Matthew, for the New Novello Choral Edition I have brought the same skills to the project of turning this work into a version which would both be consistent in tone with the original, and be capable of being performed in Britain’s churches and concert halls.
Full instrumental parts are available on hire.
The instrumentation is: 2 oboes, strings, keyboard continuo
Please contact Neil Jenkins for all hirings.