An Orchestral Conception
Bach church cantatas -
'... robust and sensitive as required ...'
Having finished conducting all the Bach church cantatas some thirty years ago, I have totally forgotten most of them. There remain the glow of many hours' wonderful music-making, ever-increasing admiration for Bach's genius, and a vague distaste at the rivers of blood apparently necessary for our redemption. Only two of these cantatas (harmonia mundi HMC 901969) are in any way sanguinary, and Bach's poetasters have thrust on us nothing worse than the apples of Sodom, which may have been, before the local doomsday, as good as any others growing round the Dead Sea. Indeed Lot's wife, for all I know, may have bought pounds of them until she became a pillar of salt and could presumably go to market no more.
Three of these cantatas were composed for the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity, when the Gospel is concerned with the widow of Nain, whom Christ met at the city gate and in mercy brought her dead son to life again.The Collect in the Book of Common Prayer makes a very necessary plea: 'let thy continual pity cleanse and defend thy Church.' The order of composition is 161, 95, 27, the first designed for Weimar, the other pair for Leipzig. No 84 belongs to Septuagesima Sunday, when the Gospel relates the dismay of those who had laboured in the vineyard all day at receiving only a penny, the same reward as given to those hired at the eleventh hour. The moral spelt out in this solo soprano cantata, the latest of the batch, is that we be content with our lot.
Copyright © 4 June 2008
Robert Anderson, Cairo, Egypt