Bach wrote one cantata for Palm Sunday, BWV 182, Himmelskönig, sei willkommen, in 1714. You would have thought, considering both Bach's tendencies and the importance of Palm Sunday in the church calendar, that this would be a grand, sweeping, majestic thing. But this is an early cantata, and the mood is very intimate, written for a small chamber choir and orchestra. Here's what the late Craig Smith from Emmanuel Music had to say:
Bach Cantata BWV 182 was one of the earliest works written in Weimar and is thus one of Bach's earliest cantatas. It has a charming chamber-sized orchestration of recorder, one violin, two violas, cello and organ. The opening sinfonia has the sound of early morning about it. The recorder and solo violin trade off piquant dotted lines against the pizzicato of the other strings. The opening chorus is delightfully child-like in its portrayal of Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem. The solo bass intones a line from Psalm 40 as an introduction to the stirring aria with the strings. The solo recorder returns as the obbligato to the poignant alto aria. This is the beginning of the transition of the cantata from the joyous entrance into Jerusalem to a meditation on the Passion. The continuo aria with tenor is a further passion-like piece. It would not be out of place in one of the Passion settings. After the penultimate chorale prelude on the tune "Jesu Kreuz, Leiden und Pein," the light chorus "So lasset uns gehen in Salem der Freuden" ends the cantata.I've chosen the recording of this charming cantata by the Montréal Baroque under the direction of Eric Milnes. Enjoy!
Photo © 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger