Friday, April 23, 2010

Back to Bach Cantatas

Now that the spring rock and folk marathon has concluded, I'll be back this Sunday, 25 April, at 6 am on Classical Sunrise to bring you two Bach sacred cantatas. We'll be hearing cantatas for the Third Sunday after Easter (Jubilate)(25 April) and for the Fourth Sunday after Easter (Cantate)(2 May).
I've chosen BWV 103 for the Third Sunday, Ihr werdet weinen und heulen (You shall weep and lament . . . but the world shall rejoice), and BWV 108 for the Fourth Sunday, Es ist euch gut, das ich hingehe (It is good for you that I go away). Bach composed BWV 103 for Sunday 22 April 1725; BWV 108 was first performed the following Sunday of that same year. Both cantatas are based on text by Christiane Mariane von Ziegler.
The opening chorus in BWV 103 starts out in a sorrowful mood, lamenting the death of Jesus, but then becomes joyful with the promise of salvation. In a similar vein, BWV 108 opens with Jesus Christ explaining why he is leaving but with the promise to send the Holy Spirit.

This community recently had the good fortune to hear Bach's B minor Mass performed. When I asked a friend whether she had attended the performance, she said no, that she did not like "religious" music. I was somewhat taken aback: Bach certainly composed his sacred works for "the glory of God," but in my view the universality and great glory of Bach's music transcends any religion. What do you think?

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