Sunday, June 08, 2014

Strike Up the Band!

Chez Underbelly has a new project: the Bach cantatas.  Somebody gave Mrs. B the thick, sturdy hardbound edition of John Eliot Gardiner's Bach:  Music in the Castle of Heaven  for Christmas last year (actually, two people did but that is another story).   It's almost impossibly rich in insight but also dense and requires attention--neither one of us has actually read it through yet.  But happens we are also the proud owners of the boxed set--the John Eliot  Gardner CDs from"The Bach Cantata Pilgrimage."  So it was she who said--look, let's do this right.  One or two a night. Work our way through the Lutheran Church year.   We'll use Gardiner. But it is your job (she said to me) to dig up more useful background, etc.

And we're off and running. Last night we did BWV 63 and 191, Christmas, and would have recognized, even if not told by notes, that 191 gives us an early draft of the B-Minor mass  (it was a one of the first pieces of Bach to make my hair stand on end, back when I was about 19).  I also discovered the eye-popping Bach cantatas website, with (to all appearances) a profusion of resources (here is BWV 191 in Chinese, if that is to your taste).  If I just don't tell her about the site, I can make myself look like a hero.  More anon.  Meanwhile, here's a rendering of BWV 191--not Gardiner, but the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir with Ton Koopman.  Less assertive or dramatic than the Gardiner, but also lovely:

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