The “Coburg St Mark Passion” by Johann Georg Künstel (c1645-1694) is further evidence of the highly developed musical culture of the late 17th century in Germany beyond the great musical centres of Dresden, Hamburg and Leipzig. This work is one of the first oratorio passions in which the evangelist leads through the story in Italian-style basso continuo recitatives. All the dramaturgically important protagonists of the Passion (Jesus, Peter, Judas, Pilate, the high priest, the maid, the centurion, the disciples) appear as solo voices and narrate the Gospel according to Mark. The work consists of five parts, which were performed on the individual days of Holy Week. The opus, which lasts over two hours, is indebted to the Italian concertato style and shows itself to be a cleverly composed musical drama in its energetic turba choruses, pictorial recitatives with clearly characterised soliloquents, the poetically reflective duets and arias and its meditative chorales. The traditionally inserted “Ecce quomodo moritur” by Jacob Gallus and the final chorale “O Traurigkeit” mark the work as a Protestant Passion “par execellence”.
Johann Georg Künstel lived in the second half of the 17th century. Jobs as court organist and court kapellmeister took him to Ansbach and Coburg. The St Mark Passion was probably composed during his time as court Kapellmeister at Coburg. In its facture, this work is a great discovery for the music world.