Sunday, May 07, 2017

Sunday Bach - Third Sunday After Easter

Upland meadow on a rainy day
Bach wrote three cantatas for Jubilate, the third Sunday after Easter. The theme for all three is the Gospel reading from John 16:16 - 23, where Jesus tells the disciples that they'll be sorrowful for a while when he leaves them, but soon enough they'll be joyful again when he returns. Of the three cantatas, BWV 103, Ihr werdet weinen und heulen (You shall weep and lament), best captures that mood of sorrow followed by joy. Here's what the late Craig Smith of Emmanuel Music had to say about this lovely cantata:
Bach Cantata BWV 103 dates from Bach's second year in Leipzig. As is true of so many cantatas from that period, the work is heavily weighted to the remarkable and profound opening chorus. The simultaneous weeping and rejoicing that is the basis of the text is something that music can do better than words. The mournful chromatic lines of the chorus are punctuated by the laughing, almost cackling, arpeggios of the piccolo. Almost imperceptibly the harshness of the chromaticism and the laughing arpeggios join forces to make, by the end of the movement, a euphonious whole. The gracious alto aria with flute softens much of the harshness of the message of the opening chorus. The triumphant tenor aria with obbligato trumpet announces a sea change in the character of the cantata. The final chorale harmonization of "Was mein Gott will, dass g'scheh allzeit" announces a proper benediction.
For today's Sunday Bach I've chosen a wonderful performance by the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir under the direction of Ton Koopman. Enjoy!

Photo © 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger

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