23 June 2022, The Tablet

Music from outside time


The Great Passion
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THE FAMOUSLY pessimistic Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran thought God’s Creation would have been a total failure were it not for the music of Bach offering a “ladder of tears on which our longings for God ascend”. This novel explores that ascent. The “Great Passion” of its title is Bach’s Passion According to St Matthew and its narrative consists in what might be considered an extended choir practice leading to the work’s first performance. This is presented through the eyes of an organ builder who recalls being a soprano boy singer in that choir.


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