Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bach Log: Baby Steps, and a Discovery

Another evening of Bach Cantatas, and I've already lost (=am too lazy to) count exactly how many we've done.  But we're at the second Sunday of Epiphany.  That would be BWV 155 ("Mein Gott, wie lang, ach lange?"), BWV 3 ("Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid!"--same as BWV 58) and BWV 3 ("Meine Seufer, meine Tränen"), and I'm taking baby steps at getting some sense of what to look for, what they are about and suchlike.  We note in passing that most of the CDs in the house bearing the label "cantatas" are in fact selections from cantatas, not the whole thing.  And I'm beginning to sense that (duh!) there is a reason why a chorale is put next to a recitative and so forth.

This evening also marked my discovery of the work of the late Craig Smith, who must already be a legend among serious Bach enthusiasts: Wiki says he "is considered a seminal figure in Boston's Baroque music revival of the 1970s," Emmanuel Music, he Boston Baroque music cooperative. I find him now in his avatar as annotator/commentator of Emmanuel's cantata series and it is pretty clear these are going to be indispensable.   I might have figured out on my own, for example, that the orchestration of the tenor aria in BWV 13 is "interesting and cool … Two recorders pitched quite high play a poignant duet above a meandering and expressive oboe da caccia line and an active bass."   But I certainly didn't have the breadth to see that As fascinating as this work is. ... it must be counted as a peculiarity. Bach goes to such extreme lengths to save an unsaveable text that he has written something in the end that is more odd than touching."

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