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April 3, 2010

Music for Holy Saturday from Bach's St. Matthew Passion

I figured if I started something on Good Friday with my posting of Marian Anderson's noble recording of "Were You There" -- one of my favorite performances by the legendary contralto -- I should follow up with some music for Holy Saturday. And that brings me to one of my favorites passages in all of Bach's extensive output, the bass aria "Mache dich, mein Herze, rein" from the "St. Matthew Passion."

The steady, calming flow of the melodic line gets to me every time I hear it. So perfect in construction, so affecting in mood. One need not have the slightest religious leaning to respond to the subtle expressive force of this poetic contemplation on the burial of Jesus: "Make my heart pure; I want to bury Jesus myself; he shall now find in me a sweet rest; world, depart, let Jesus in."

Here's a performance of the aria sung by Walter Berry, with Karl Richter conducting:

Posted by Tim Smith at 8:02 AM | | Comments (0)

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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