Royal Academy of Music/Kohn Foundation Bach Cantatas

Sunday, 20.05.2018 12:00, Duke’s Hall

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

BWV 27 Wer weiß, wie nahe mir mein Ende?
BWV 14 Wär Gott nicht mit uns diese Zeit
BWV 47 Wer sich selbst erhöhet, der soll erniedriget werden

Iain Ledingham director
Rachel Podger leader

Performed on historical instruments.

Each of today’s cantatas is dominated by its highly original opening chorus in which aspects of the text seem to have prompted Bach to dig deep into his stylistic resources. Wer weiß, wie nahe mir mein Ende?, BWV 27, composed in October 1726, meditates on the believer’s preparation for death. Its opening chorus sets Ämilie Juliane von Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt’s 1686 chorale in a particularly complex way, with recitative insertions commenting on the lines of the hymn as it unfolds. Wär Gott nicht mit uns diese Zeit, BWV 14, written for the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, is based on Luther’s 1524 adaptation of Psalm 124. As if taking his cue from the venerable ancient source, Bach sets the first verse in the style of an old motet, rather than in his ‘modern’ chorale cantata manner. Wer sich selbst erhöhet, der soll erniedriget werden, BWV 47, opens with a pithy text exemplifying the rhetorical pattern chiasmus, the crossing over of concepts: whoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be raised up. Bach’s musical response is simply awe-inspiring.

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