Royal Academy of Music/Kohn Foundation Bach Cantatas

Sunday, 02.10.2016 12:00, Duke’s Hall

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Iain Ledingham director
Margaret Faultless leader

JS Bach Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, (In Thee alone, Lord Jesus Christ), BWV 33
JS Bach Wohl dem, der sich auf seinen Gott, (Happy is he who can trust his God), BWV 139
JS Bach Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz, (Why are you troubled, my heart?), BWV 138

Performed on historical instruments

Sold out, returns only.

The relationship between the text that Bach selected for ‘Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ’ and the Gospel for the 13th Sunday after Trinity on which it was performed is not a particularly obvious one. The words are concerned with the familiar theme of sin and redemption, as the sinner confesses to God and asks not to be cast away. The central alto aria depicts the sinner’s stepping in a pizzicato string accompaniment, while a somewhat angular violin melody hints at the sinner’s trepidation and regret and also the warmth that he finds in forgiveness.

The text for BWV 139 combines a hymn by Johann Christoph Rube with biblical text (Matthew 10.16) to exemplify that, although mankind is surrounded by trial, danger, and sinful temptation, God’s word and love will protect those who are faithful. The cantata’s instrumentation and soothing melodic material focus on God’s love rather than the dangers that the text describes, and the listener only glimpses fear and trial during the uniquely structured bass aria.

On the 5th September 1723, the 15th Sunday after Trinity, the Leipzig congregation heard an unusual cantata in ‘Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz’. Although written a year before Bach’s cycle of Chorale Cantatas, this work is based on an omnipresent hymn attributed to Nuremberg, which seeks to bring comfort to the desperate and suffering individual. Whilst the music mostly focuses on the melancholic despair of the text, the chorale gently intervenes in various forms until we begin to feel comfort as the bass rejoices in a warm aria.

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