What I Like About...
Friday, July 23, 2004
  Cantata: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140, 1. Chorus: Wachet auf
Johann Sebastian Bach
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 6 Tracks 1-5

Here, music offers a view of an event far in the past. We see Mr. Bach setting a few simple ideas into motion. A string contingent with a swing in three is echoed by a double reed trio. A French Horn supports a choir singing a good morning song. And the rhythm section walks a steady beat. The aggregate of these easy parts rings with the clarity and truth that church is supposed to have. Because Bach wrote for his moment and the people around him, there is something almost voyeuristic about listening to him now.

For the first time in this anthology the oboes, without flutes, enjoy some elbow room. In fact, joined by an English Horn, the two oboes are now a force equal to the upper strings. Also pertinent to the emerging orchestra is the arrival of the French Horn. This instrument is here to double soprano. But because this part is the least active in the choir and the horn has such a beautiful ability to sustain long pitches in the background, we hear the horn, at least in this recording, as a voice of its own.

What I like about this tune are the two brief moments when the walking bass takes a break. Both times, the absence of the continuo allows the music to convey a sense of elevation without sending the performers into high, uncomfortable ranges.

Also read about Bach in the wikipedia.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home
In January 2004 I starting writing an opinion for each selection in the Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music. Now, more than a year later, I am almost finished. Soon, I will have an archive full of opinions on the music we so carelessly call "classical." And no one can stop me.

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Director of the Contemporary Performer's Workshop... Music Teacher for St. Aloysius Gonzaga School... Principal 'Cellist of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra... Composer

Read Also...
Music Reference Links
Links to Composers and Collaborations
Miscellaneous Links
What I Said About...