Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday Bach - Fourth Sunday in Lent

Corn Speedwell
This week we're back to Sundays in Lent for which Bach didn't write a cantata. This week I chose BWV 150, Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich, one of his earliest cantatas, written between 1704 and 1707. It's a penitential text, but unattached to any particular liturgical Sunday or event. Here's what the late Craig Smith, musicologist and founder of Emmanuel Music, had to say about this cantata:
Bach Cantata BWV 150 is an early work, written several years before last week’s Cantata BWV 18. Because the work only exists in a manuscript in another’s hand, there has been speculation that it is not by Bach. Even a cursory examination shows that only Bach could have written such an impressive work. The cantata has a small orchestration: two violins, bassoon, and continuo. After a melancholy Sinfonia, the chorus intones the opening of Psalm 25 in a marching, chromatic, and imitative line. As is the case with most of the cantatas of this era, there are many tempo and character changes within the individual movements. The piece has many impressive moments; the listeners should particularly note the stirring scale rising through the choral and violin parts in the movement “Leite mich.” “Meine Augen” is a heavenly floating thing, gentle in the most wonderful early-Bach manner. The cantata ends with a mighty chaconne. When the volume of the Bach Gesellschaft containing this cantata was first published, Brahms was working on his Fourth Symphony. He immediately incorporated the ground bass of this cantata into the chaconne that ends his symphony.
For this week's performance I've chosen this haunting rendition by the Purcell Choir and the Orfeo Orchestra under the direction of György Vashegyi, recorded at the Budapest Music Center in 2014. Enjoy!

Photo © 2017 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

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