Pamela Dellal, mezzo soprano

 

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Bach Cantata Notes

BWV 43

Bach's Acension Day cantata, BWV 43, was composed in 1726, his third year in Leipzig.  Although it is in eleven movements, the work is no longer than the normal cantata because of the brief, condensed nature of all of its movements.  The opening chorus begins with a dignified sinfonia depicting the grandeur of the Ascension and is quickly interrupted by the rejoicing of trumpets and drums, and finally and four voice choral fugue.  The tenor recitative leads into the wonderful tenor aria with its string figuration that keeps piling up to produce a great sense of the thousands upon thousands.  The soprano aria has a sweetness that is appropriate to the childlike tone of the text. But there is little overt sense of triumph in this aria. The ritornello theme twists around, making several attempts to climb upwards, perhaps alluding to the difficulties of Christ′s period on earth before the ascension.

In complete contrast is the aggressive and victorious bass recitative accompanied by fanfare figures on the strings that sets up the clarion bass aria with solo trumpet. Notice how the contrasting minor harmonies and tortuous melodic lines graphically depict the torments undergone, only emerge triumphantly from the agonies. The alto aria portrays the good Christian gazing, awestruck, at how God dispenses with his enemies through the busy two oboe and continuo ritornello.  A setting of the chorale "Ermuntre dich, mein schwacher Geist" ends the cantata on a note of uncertainty----when shall I go there, when shall I stand before You? 

 

© Craig Smith, with additions by Ryan Turner


Bach's Acension Day cantata BWV 43 was written in his third year in Leipzig.  Although it is in eleven movements, the work is no longer than the normal cantata because of the brief, condensed nature of all of its movements.  The opening chorus is grand, with trumpets and drums, but is over before you know it.  The tenor recitative leads into the wonderful tenor aria with its string figuration that keeps piling up to produce a great sense of the thousands upon thousands.  The soprano aria has a sweetness that is appropriate to the childlike tone of the text.  In complete contrast is the clarion bass aria with solo trumpet. The alto aria has a melancholy that reflects the sad side of the story. A setting of the chorale "Ermuntre dich, mein schwacher Geist" ends the cantata.

© Craig Smith