Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Bach for Easter - Peace Be With You (Easter Tuesday)

Mustard Garlic
Bach had three cantatas for Easter Tuesday, and I chose this little gem, BWV 158, (Der Friede sei mit dir / Peace be with you), a solo cantata for bass and chorus from 1727. Actually, it may have been written earlier in Weimar (1713 - 1717), but the first performance was in Leipzig in 1727. Here's what musicologist Simon Crouch has to day about it:
Blink and you'll miss it! At around twelve minutes long and with only four movements (recitative, aria/chorale, recitative, chorale), BWV 158 is thought to represent only a fragment of a larger work. Certainly, looking at the form of other cantatas, one would at least expect another aria before the closing chorale. If this hypothesis is true then it is a great shame since the surviving movements are all excellent and hint at a masterpiece. The major part of the cantata is taken up with a bass aria woven around a soprano chorale accompanied by a beautiful, singing, violin accompaniment. Robertson suggests comparison with Schlummert ein from the great BWV 82 and Schuhmacher (in the Teldec series notes) suggests Erbarme dich from the St. Matthew Passion. Can I say more in praise of this movement? The opening recitative includes arioso sections of outstanding beauty and the second recitative is hardly less impressive. The cantata finishes with the fifth verse of Luther's great hymn Christ lag in Todesbanden.
I've chosen the performance by the chorus and orchestra of La Chapelle Royale under the direction of Philippe Herreweghe, featuring the glorious low tones of bass Peter Kooy. Enjoy!

Photo © 2017 by A. Roy Hilbinger

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