Royal Academy of Music/Kohn Foundation Bach Cantatas

Sunday, 24.04.2016 12:00, Duke’s Hall

This event is now sold out - returns only

Iain Ledingham director
Madeleine Easton leader
Alys Roberts soprano
Patrick Terry countertenor
Hiroshi Amaki tenor
Michael Mofidian bass-baritone

JS Bach Was mein Gott will, das g’scheh allzeit, BWV 111 (May my God’s will always be done)
JS Bach Was frag ich nach der Welt, BWV 94 (Why enquire after the world)
JS Bach Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig, BWV 26 (Ah how fleeting, ah how trifling)

Performed on historical instruments

This event is now sold out - returns only. Tickets £14 (concessions £11), season discounts available, on sale online, by telephone 020 7873 7300 (weekdays in term-time, 10.00am–4.00pm).

The buoyant chorale cantata BWV 111 was composed for the 3rd Sunday after Epiphany in January 1725. The text draws on a hymn by Duke Albrecht of Prussia alongside biblical passages about finding comfort in submission to the will of God. The centrepiece of the work is a determined and confident dance-like duet for alto and tenor with flashes of violin passage work and grounded pedal notes to reflect the mankind’s spirited steps as he walks with God to death.

In an exploration of human nature, ‘Was frag ich nach der Welt’ is a chorale cantata of much variety. Like many of the Leipzig cantatas from 1724, BWV 94 has an active flute part in the opening chorus fantasia – and indeed the flute and oboe d’amores play a vital role throughout. The text is based on a hymn by Balthasar Kindermann and, beginning with unfailing joy, the cantata progresses through despairing lamentation, loyalty and steadfastness, to purity and searching optimism.

Perhaps the positive and swirling opening movements of ‘Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig’ is unexpected given the topic of Michael Frank’s 13-verse hymn, but Bach’s setting is a masterpiece of insightful figuration. The text for BWV 26, reduced into only six verses, describes the melancholy demise of earthly treasures in our all-too-fast progression through life. The opening sinfonia and tenor aria are exceptional depictions of nature through melodic invention, and the final bass aria employs three oboes in an enticing yet macabre dance towards death.

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