Like his previous film, Over Canto (2011), Ramón Gieling’s latest film, Erbarme Dich, illustrates the powerful influence of music on people’s lives. This time he focuses on the St Matthew Passion by Johan Sebastian Bach. Outstanding sections, amongst them arias by soloists of The Bach Choir & Orchestra of the Netherlands, are performed led by conductor Pieter Jan Leusink. All this takes place in an abandoned church and the audience is “De straatklinker”, a choir of homeless people who on occasion also sing back-up.
The complete setting, including the colour scheme, reflects the mood that the aria ‘Erbarme Dich’ evokes in listeners. Opera director Peter Sellars, author Anna Enquist, dancer Emio Greco and painter Rinke Nijburg describe how the St Matthew Passion has affected their lives. And impressive aspect of the film is this famous conductor’s take on the St Matthew’s Passion. Being able to observe Leusink head-on during the performance, we as viewers become utterly convinced of his immersion in the music. Erbarme Dich is a must-see for all those who feel the itch to see the St Matthew in spring. This film will add uniquely to your previous experience of listening to this Bach masterpiece. (AvL)