Sunday, July 02, 2017

Sunday Bach - Third Sunday After Trinity

Bach wrote two cantatas for the third Sunday after Trinity. BWV 21, Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis (I had much sorrow) is very grand, very monumental, and is arguably one of the greatest of Bach's cantatas. But I'm not in the mood for the monumental Bach today. I'm more in the mood for the more reflective Bach of BWV 135, Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder straf nicht in deinem Zorn (Ah, Lord, punish not me, poor sinner, in Thine anger). This is a chorale cantata based on Hans Hassler's hymn tune for Herzlich tut mich verlangen (I do desire dearly), which Bach also used in his great St. Matthew Passion. Here's what Simon Crouch has to say about this cantata:
Bach uses Hassler's Herzlich tut mich verlangen (The Passion Chorale) several times in different harmonisations, to tremendous effect, in the St. Matthew Passion. In the opening chorus of this cantata we have a completely different and quite stunning setting, which is almost a chorale fantasia, of this hymn tune. The tune is given (in slow time) to the basses who hold the final note of each line to provide a pedal point to the parts above who weave their variations. This establishes a deeply sad and affecting atmosphere for the cantata. The pattern for the rest of this short cantata is fairly standard with recitative, aria, recitative, aria and final chorale. The first recitative has the tears running down the sinners face illustrated by demisemiquaver runs! The following tenor aria allows the oboes to chase each other up and down hill with the soloist eventually making it a threesome. The bass aria is a vigorous affair with a lovely touch at the da capo: Mein Jesus Trostet mich is set to the second line of the chorale melody. A beautiful moment. The final chorale is a much more conventional setting of the hymn tune.
Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.
Today's performance is from 2000 by the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir under the direction of Ton Koopman. Enjoy!

Photo © 2017 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

No comments:

Post a Comment