— Johann Georg Künstel


Anyone who wants to know where Johann Sebastian Bach possibly got his first ideas for his Passion dramas should take a look at the St Mark Passion by Johann Georg Künstel (c1645-1694).
With its characterisation, the expressive turbae, the 17 plot-bearing chorales and the words of Christ accompanied by strings, it anticipates many ideas that the great Thomaskantor later immortalised in an unsurpassable manner in his epic Passion settings.

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.



Hans Jörg Mammel – tenore / Evangelist
Felix Rumpf – baritono / Jesus
Magdalene Harer – soprano / Magd
Joowon Chung – soprano
Alexander Schneider – alto / Petrus
Piotr Olech – alto / Judas
Johannes Gaubitz – tenore / Jünger
Sören Richter – tenore / Jünger/Einer
Torsten Voigt – baritono / Hauptmann
Philipp J. Kaven – basso / Hohepriester
Cornelius Uhle – basso / Pilatus

Christoph Hesse – Kontertmeister
Angelika Balzer – Violine
Max Bock – Viola
Ursula Plagge-Zimmermann – Viola
Daniela Wartenberg – Violincello
Haralt Martens – Violone
Christoph Anselm Noll – Orgel & Cembalo
Michael Dücker – Laute


„…Plangent choruses and dulcet chorales benefit from Polyharmonique’s sophisticated harmonic shaping and crystalline diction…“

David Vickers in GRAMOPHONE (Juni 2019) über Markus Passion von Johann Georg Künstel

„…No-one who is interested in the pre-history of the Bach oratorio passions should miss this. And it is not just a vital link in the historical chain; it is really good and characterful music, admirably performed. Singers do not wobble or need to over-sing; lines are clear and the dramatis personae are well-characterised; balances are excellent and the whole production has a coherence and intensity that I was not expecting.

This is an excellent first recording of this newly-discovered work, and if you learn from it as much as I did, you will be eternally grateful. This is an alpha production and deserves to be widely known and enjoyed.“…

David Stancliffe in über Markus Passion von Johann Georg Künstel (18. Juni 2019) 

„…Durchweg gelingt eine sehr überzeugende und packende Interpretation, in der alle elf Sängerinnen und Sänger sowohl als Solisten agieren als auch den Chor bilden. Dieser Spagat gelingt hervorragend, in den vielen Chorälen etwa ist ein absolut homogenes Ensemble zu hören. Maßgeblichen Anteil am Gelingen hat Hans Jörg Mammel als Evangelist: Obgleich die Partie häufig ähnliche melodische Wendungen aufweist, sorgt er mit klarer Stimme, Aussprache und Gestaltung für große Abwechslung. Aber auch die vielen Strophenarien, -duette und – terzette werden auf hohem stimmlichen Niveau vorgetragen und von den L’arpa festante-Streichern sehr geschmackvoll begleitet…“

Bernhard Schrammek am 9. APRIL 2019 über Markus Passion von Johann Georg Künstel

„…Les chanteurs réunis autour du primus inter pares Alexander Schneider sont tous animés par le souci, absolument essentiel dans ce répertoire, de rendre justice à la Parole et le font avec autant de précision et d’humilité que de finesse et de ferveur, faisant montre d’un engagement tangible dans la défense de cette œuvre et de ce compositeur tombés dans l’oubli. Chacun s’emploie à donner le meilleur de lui-même tant d’un point de vue technique qu’expressif et le résultat est tout à fait convaincant : on ne s’ennuie jamais durant ces 99 numéros qu’un art moins maître de ses moyens aurait tôt fait de réduire à une grisaille ; les interprètes non seulement s’y entendent pour relancer et maintenir l’attention, mais également pour susciter l’émotion…“

Jean-Christophe Pucek vom 19 April 2019 auf