Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sunday Bach - Trinity 4

Bach wrote three cantatas for the fourth Sunday after Trinity. Last year we listened to the earliest one, so this year I thought we'd listen to the middle one, BWV 24, Ein ungefärbt Gemüte (An unstained mind, Leipzig 1723). This is uncomplicated, lighthearted, even bouncy in parts, with some special beauty in the latter half - the tenor aria and the closing chorus. Given the state of the world at the moment, this cantata is a welcome reprieve from the stress. Here's the late Craig Smith of Emmanuel Music on this cantata:
Cantata BWV 24 is from Bach's first season in Leipzig. It is unusual in both shape and content.  The cantata begins almost casually, with an appealing and bouncy alto aria with the violins and violas playing a tuneful and uncomplicated obbligato. The work is so lighthearted that the somewhat sinister equation of "truth" with "German" can be overlooked.  There is an interesting palindrome structure to this work with the second and fourth numbers, the two recitatives in the work, providing rather lengthy meditations of the two polar ideas in the work, sincerity and hypocracy.  In between these little sermons is a very intense, jittery choral setting of the biblical passage for the day, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  The sternness, even preachiness, in Bach's reading of this passage is surprising.  The warm and expressive tenor aria with two obbligato oboes d'amore is a wonderful calming influence after the chorus.  Perhaps the most beautiful thing in the cantata is the ravishing setting of "O Gott, du frommer Gott" that ends the cantata. 
© Craig Smith
This week's performance is from a recording by the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir under the direction of Ton Koopman. Enjoy!

Photo © 2018 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

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