Royal Academy of Music/Kohn Foundation Bach Cantatas

Sunday, 02.04.2017 12:00, Duke’s Hall

Iain Ledingham director 
Margaret Faultless leader

JS Bach Ihr werdet weinen und heulen, BWV 103
JS Bach Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder, BWV 135
JS Bach Du Hirte Israel, höre, BWV 104

Performed on historical instruments.

Tickets £15 (concessions £12), season discounts available. Book from Tuesday 4th October 2016: By telephone 020 7873 7300, in person (Monday–Friday, 10am–4pm) and online

As the three cantatas in this concert exemplify, Bach could take a complex stance towards the expression of doctrine about sin and redemption. While sin itself is a cause for penitence and punishment, God’s forgiveness and Christ’s redemption are causes for joy. Only Bach, out of all his contemporaries, had the wherewithal to nuance those concepts by combining them in different, compelling ways.

In the Eastertide cantata Ihr werdet weinen und heulen (‘Ye shall weep and lament’), the opening chorus’s contrast of lamentation and rejoicing is embedded in radically different types of music, which Bach nevertheless goes on to combine. The paradox is embodied in the sound of the solo recorder, at once mournful and gracefully agile.

Similarly, the chorale cantata Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder (‘O Lord, do not punish a poor sinner’) takes the famous ‘Passion’ chorale and turns it into an elegant minuet. At the same time it dwells obsessively on the hymn’s melodic shapes, as if the memory of sin and suffering were imprinted on the grace of the dance. 

Conversely, the pastoral consolation of Du Hirte Israel, höre (‘Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel’), with its bucolic drones and piping textures, finds room for the imploring gestures of penitence and Bach’s powerful chromatic symbols of sin and suffering. 

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