Sunday, April 14, 2019

Sunday Bach - Palm Sunday

Bach composed one cantata for Palm Sunday - BWV 182, Himmelskönig, sei willkommen (King of heaven, welcome, Weimar, 1714). This is one of Bach's earliest cantatas, and as such it's written for a very small chamber ensemble; the effect is very simple and very intimate, a surprising thing for the celebration of Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem. One wonders how Bach would have written this during the peak of his career in Leipzig. In any case, here's the late Craig Smith of Emmanuel Music on the subject:
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.

© Craig Smith
Today's performance is from a new offering from the J.S. Bach Foundation of Trogen, Switzerland, under the direction of Rudolf Lutz. Enjoy!

Photo © 2019 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

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