Gottfried August Homilius: St. Mark Passion / Fritz Näf

It’s striking how much this Passion by Homilius sounds like the passions and oratorios of J.S. Bach at times, especially in the choruses, but also in the recitatives. This new recording of the St. Mark Passion HoWV I.10 by Gottfried August Homilius (1714-1785) is an important release that should not slip by any collector unnoticed; it has been released by Carus and is the world premiere recording. Regarding the performance, there really isn’t much more to ask for from tenor-turned-conductor Fritz Näf, the Basler Madrigalisten, L’arpa Festante and his fine assembly of vocal soloists.

Homilius was a very well regarded composer from his own time well into the nineteenth century. Through the first half of the 19th-century, his music received regular performances across Germany and Austria, and was compared favorably to the music of Bach by some scholars. As a student at Leipzig University, Homilius spent time in the circles of Bach’s students, and it’s quite likely that he himself studied with him. Another reason that I am often reminded of Bach when listening to this Homilius Passion is that it is similarly structured to those by Bach, so the flow of recitative, solo, chorus is very familiar. Listen to the samples from this Carus disc I’ve provided. I’ve purposely included examples of all three types so you can assess them yourself. I’d be very interested in hearing what you think; if you care to, please post your thoughts below.

With eleven CDs of Homilius’ music available so far from Carus, it’s evident that they have dedicated themselves whole-heartedly to this growing project. If we are lucky, they will keep going; Homilius composed ten passions in all, as well as oratorios for Christmas and Easter, a hundred and fifty cantatas and sixty motets, among other works.

Album Overview

With the first recording of the St. Mark Passion by Gottfried August Homilius Carus continues its acclaimed series with music by Homilius Passion (St. John Passion and Passion cantatas). With compassionate arias, unusual orchestral sounds and expressive Turba choruses, Homilius translated the traditional passion in his time. Fritz Naf, the Basler Madrigalisten and L’arpa festante are dedicated to this forgotten passion of sensibility.

Over twelve years ago Carus re discovered the composer Gottfried August Homilius – longtime choirmaster of the famous Dresden Kreuzkirche. After two very successful releases of music for Passion (St. John Passion & Passion Cantata) the world premier recording of St. Marc Passion presents sensitive arias, unusual orchestral sounds and expressive turba choruses.


Composer: Gottfried August Homilius

The German composer, Gottfried August Homilius, was a pupil of J.S. Bach, and master of Johann Adam Hiller. Gottfried August Homilius’ numerous sacred compositions are characterised by a peculiarly happy vein of melody, and, in accordance with the taste of the day, an avoidance’ of polyphonic treatment of the parts.

Orchestra: L’arpa festante

Barockorchester L’arpa festante, designated after the first opera (1653), specified in Munich, was created by its concert-master and music director Michi Gaigg in the autumn 1983. The ensemble dedicates itself especially to perfomance of unknown works from the South German Baroque.

Director: Fritz Näf

Vocal Ensemble: Basler Madrigalisten

The Basler Madrigalisten, a vocal ensemble conprising 4 to 24 singers, equally at home as soloists or choristers, have a wide repertoire ranging from the Renaissance to the music of our time. The Basler Madrigalisten were founded at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in 1978 by Fritz Näf.

Bariton: Thomas Laske

Tenor: Hans Jörg Mammel

Mezzo-soprano: Ruth Sandhoff

Soprano: Monika Mauch


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