On Sunday I took part in a performance of Bach's marathon masterwork, the "St Matthew Passion", with the London Concert Choir, at Cadogan Hall in Chelsea.
I didn't know the piece very well before we started rehearsals. I knew it to be music of immense grandeur, complexity and length (did I mention that it's long?) but I hadn't quite appreciated how gloriously irresistible its melodies are until I sang them, week after week.
In the weeks leading up to the concert, one tune in particular became my constant companion: that from the chorale, "O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden", the stately form of which recurs throughout the work in subtly different forms. I was singing it in the shower and over breakfast until one day my wife said, "That sounds like 'American Tune', by Paul Simon".Read on.