Sunday, June 02, 2019

Sunday Bach - Ascension Sunday (Exaudi)

Approaching Storm
Bach wrote two cantatas for the sixth Sunday after Easter, and I've chosen the first one, BWV 44, Sie werden euch in den Bann tun (They will turn you out...) from 1724. This is still drawing from Jesus' farewell to the disciples in the 15th and 16th chapters of John, and this week the reading emphasizes the trials and tribulations the disciples will experience from now on. Here's what musicologist Simon Crouch has to say about this cantata:
Jesus warns the disciples that their task will not be easy after He has left them. Though not an outstanding piece, I rate this quite highly because it is concentrated: It demonstrates the art of the cantata in a short, succinct and effective way. The pessimistic scene is set very quickly with text taken from the Gospel. The tenor/bass duet on the first line (Out from their church will they cast you) leads immediately into a chorus on the next (Yea there cometh the time that he who kills you will think that he doeth service to God thereby). The first aria allows the alto to meditate on what it means to be a Christian and the following chorale and recitative emphasise the pain and strife involved. But, at a stroke, the pessimism is banished by the soprano singing Our Christian faith is ever safe, with God on guard on our behalf) and the concluding chorale dots the i's and crosses the t's on a simple lesson about faith. The music amplifies the message of the words in a very subtle and most effective way. For example, both of the arias make extensive use of triplet figures but the first is a sad reflective dance on the solitary oboe whereas the second is a confident, forthright dance from all the instruments together.
Copyright © 1995 & 1998, Simon Crouch
For this week's Sunday Bach I've chosen a performance by Collegium Vocale under the direction of Philippe Herreweghe. Enjoy!    

Photo © 2009 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

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