René Jacobs on his 70th birthday

Exposé for a portrait of the conductor

"Beautiful to the knees!" wrote the Tagesspiegel. "Competent and shatteringly sensual at the same time," opined the editor of RBB. "One of the best performances of recent years!". The St. John Passion interpreted by the Akademie für Alte Musik, the RIAS Kammerchor under the direction of René Jacobs reaped nothing but the highest praise, as did the concerts of the St. Matthew Passion before it. "The St. Matthew Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach is available in more than forty recordings. The question is: Who needs this new reading? Answer: everyone! For it tells us something unheard of." (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung). The praise of the press for the Bach Passions in René Jacobs' reading is unanimously unequivocal - and proves that he has long since left the specialist corner of "historical performance practice" and reached the middle of the broad public.

Younger people in particular, those in their 20s, 30s and 40s, flock to his sold-out concerts. What explains this phenomenon? What makes René Jacobs different from others? Can the secret of his special quality and incredible success be revealed?

Our film about René Jacobs will observe the famous conductor a little more closely at work, will tell how he prepares for his conductions, how he rehearses, how he talks to his ensembles and soloists - what kind of life he leads in order to get a little closer to the phenomenon that is Jacobs.

A multi-layered portrait of the world-famous star of baroque music - with countless voices of René Jacobs' closest collaborators who will talk about him and whom we observe working with him, a film that could never be made without the infinite trust that these musicians place in us.

Interview mit René Jacobs

Press reviews of the St. Matthew Passion:

"Johann Sebastian Bach's St. Matthew Passion is available in more than forty recordings. The question is: Who needs this new reading? Answer: Everyone! For it tells us something unheard of."
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

"René Jacobs undoubtedly succeeds in a great interpretation of Bach's St. Matthew Passion: with dramatic gesture, with an incredible pull, at the highest level, with idiosyncratic accents ... A St. Matthew Passion, then, that will be useful even to those who think they already know everything."

"For interpretationally, too, Jacobs noticeably draws the sum of his lifelong involvement with this new reference recording of the much-heard piece. From sometimes unusual tempi emerges a natural narrative flow of immediate persuasiveness, sensually gripping and very internalized at the same time." Süddeutsche Zeitung

"There is no question that conductor René Jacobs' profound examination of one of the most important works in the history of Western music has set another milestone in the discographic documentation of the St. Matthew Passion."

"In any case, Jacobs and his long-time sound engineer, Martin Sauer, have achieved absolutely innovative and great things here ... The sound impression that one then gains, however, can only be described as grandiose. One truly experiences a great moment of the record. (...) Even if one disregards the (quite revolutionary) spatial aspect of this new recording of the St. Matthew Passion, one must grant it a reference status. Its special quality results primarily from René Jacobs' special interpretive perspective, which is shaped by his singing experience as well as by his explorations of the world of baroque opera and oratorio as a conductor ... What fellow conductor could compete with this wealth of experience today?"
Kulturradio RBB

"Musically as well as recording-wise, the result puts everything known in the shade. Not only René Jacobs' usual vitality and his ability to tickle out the optimum of melodic line shaping and dramatic impetus from singers and instrumentalists alike are captivating, but also the tonal realization, which merges with the musical quality into a unity."
Fono Forum

"Magnificent - there is no other way to call the new recording of Johann Sebastian Bach's St. Matthew Passion with René Jacobs at the conductor's podium. It marks another significant step in the work's rich reception history by showing how far historically informed performance practice has now developed."
Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Cast & Crew

Uli Aumüller