Sunday, April 21, 2019

Sunday Bach - Easter Sunday

Bach wrote five cantatas and an oratorio for Easter, some of which I've posted here on Easters past. This year I've chosen one of his earlier ones - BWV 31, Der Himmel lacht! Die Erde jubilieret (Heaven laughs! The earth rejoices, Weimar 1715). It's very appropriate music for the central celebration of the Church, complete with trumpet fanfares and jubilant choruses. Here's the late Craig Smith on this most majestic of Bach's cantatas:
Bach Cantata BWV 31 is a work from Bach's first great maturity. Written in 1715 in Weimar, it is one of the most majestic of the Weimar cantatas. It opens with a brilliant, energetic sinfonia, setting the stage for a wonderful, vibrant chorus. As is typical of Bach after the outgoing opening, the work goes inward. The bass recitative and aria have a starkness in contrast to the chorus. The tenor aria is much warmer and friendlier. It has a marvelous jaunty tune which curiously only appears in the strings, the tenor always singing an obbligato. The high point of the cantata is the heavenly soprano aria: only Bach could lead us to this transcendent, inward spot on Easter Day. A simple, almost folklike tune in the oboe is mirrored in the soprano. Against that, all of the strings play the chorale "Wenn mein Stündlein vorhanden ist" which is then sung in a rich, five-voice setting to bring the cantata to a quiet close. 
© Craig Smith
Today's video is from a performance in 2017 by the Ensemble Pygmalion under the direction of Raphaël Pichon. Enjoy!

Photo © 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

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