Pamela Dellal, mezzo soprano

 

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PDme

 

 

Bach Cantata Notes

BWV 105

Last week’s cantata, BWV 9, focused on salvation. Today’s cantata, BWV 105, is similarly a meditation on Christian faith and redemption. From instrumental and vocal canons in the opening chorus, to the trembling and doubt of the soprano aria that leads to promised redemption and blissful acceptance, to the divine assurance of the final chorale, BWV 105 serves as a reminder that salvation is everlasting.

Bach Cantata BWV 105 is one of his gigantic masterpieces. BWV 105 and its companion work the cantata BWV 46 were written for adjacent Sundays in July of 1723.

What is most remarkable about these two twin pieces is that Bach reaches a peak of conceptual organization with each piece using common compositional material throughout to create a sense of unity that is unique in all of the cantatas.

Our work opens with a mighty chorus. Heavy treading footsteps in the bass instruments accompany the wide reaching wailing line of the oboes strings and trumpet. The chorus enters almost chaotically; gradually the work’s organization becomes clear and a striding and extraordinarily energetic fugue brings the movement to a striking close. After a pleading alto recitative, the soprano aria with strings and oboe but no bass instruments creates a world shaking with fear. The shuddering strings, with no foundation of bass instruments, are a shaky base for the heavenly pleading oboe and soprano duet. The voice of Christ reintroduces the bass instruments and stability with its gently rocking texture like a swinging censer. The tenor aria brings back the trumpet. Here, however, it is confident, even swaggering, rather than the mournful wail of the first movement. The skittering strings retain some of the shuddering quality of the soprano aria. Bach saves the most striking gesture for the last. The shaking strings accompany the chorale but gradually slow down to soothing quarter notes by the end of the movement.

©Craig Smith