Someone Please Help Me Understand This

This is not really a criticism. It’s a... I don’t know what it is.

Here’s some context.

The Bach Society of St. Louis brought several fine soloists and a welcome innovation — surtitles — to its performance of J.S. Bach's "St. John Passion" on Sunday night.

Here’s also a clip of the piece. F-ing cool piece, by the way.

What I don’t get, however, is this concluding thought:

Performing the Passion in German was a good move; Sparger has said was an "experiment." It's one that should be repeated.

Whoa. First, I’ve never heard a version of the St. John Passion performed in a language other than the original German. I suppose back in the day it happened, but not recently. Right? So performing it in German is most definitely a good move. Compositional authority, that kind of thing.

On the other hand, you have the conductor and musical director of the Bach Society of St. Louis, A. Dennis Sparger, who says that performing the piece in German was an experiment. Huh? Has he never heard the piece before? Does he, the conductor and musical director of the Bach Society of St. Louis, know that Bach was German? Or is it that St. Louis is not socially prepared for a German text? Does St. Louis hate the Germans and their consonant-heavy language?

Wait. No! No! No! I get it! I get it. How could I have been so stupid?

You may have caught the missing subject of the second statement, which, in all probability and in retrospect, was “the surtitles.” I had assumed that it was “it.”

Sparger has said the surtitles was an “experiment.”

Thus! Thus, I would put money on this: that Sparger was referring to the surtitles as experimental, not that the piece was experimentally performed in German. We’ll chalk that one up to bad editing.

Still, the propositions aren’t dependent enough (to my taste, I suppose) to warrant a semicolon. That’s like saying, “Stopping at the red light was a good move; Sparger said the light was recently erected. It’s one that should be repeated.” The stopping at the light or erecting one? Or in our case, singing the Passion in German or the surtitles?

That was roundabout, but now I understand perfectly. Bad editing and bad writing. Thanks for your help, Empiricus. You’re welcome.


Murderface said...

Even if surtitles are the esperimental bit, doesn't that put St Louis about 25 years behind the curve?

Oh, right. It's St Louis. Motto: We can make Cincinnati look hip!