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It’s never too late to post Bach!
Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ, der auferstanden ist von den Toten.
(2nd Timothy 2:8)

Keep Jesus Christ in mind, who is arisen from the dead.

St. Andrew’s Choir offered Bach as their Offertory Anthem on Easter Sunday, 2011.

BWV 67 Both cantatas for the Sunday after Easter are masterpieces. The earliest that we have is Cantata BWV 67 written for the 1st Jahrgang in Leipzig. The ambiguous and difficult situation of the doubt of the verity of Christ’s resurrection and hoping that it was true make it perfect for a musical treatment. Contrapuntal music is perfect for expressing conflicting emotions, and there are several classic examples of that technique in this work. The work begins with a representation, or rather a memory, of the Resurrection. For all of its vitality the chorus that opens this work is remarkably static. The choral fugal chorus is almost always used by Bach to promote conflicting and lively ideas. It almost inevitably leaves us in a different state than where we began. Here the chorus is a monolithic thing which provides a foil for all of the doubt and fear that follows. The chorus begins with a marching and grand motive in the winds and trumpet against sustained string textures. Three major motives emerge, a marching theme, a long held note, associated with the word “hold” and a rising melisma associated with the resurrection. Bach achieves rhythmic and emotional liveliness without real thrust by limiting himself to a diatonic harmonic language. One can hardly think of a comparably impressive and rich chorus in all of Bach that is this uncomplicated in harmony. There is a glorious and moving breadth to the piece with the richness provided by the “resurrection” melismas rising against the “hold” long notes. The harmonic and dramatic shape of the cantata, with an important segment dipping into the relative minor of the tonic A major, is reflected by the shape of the opening chorus.

Notes by Craig Smith


Bach at Easter

June 16, 2011 , , ,

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