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Friday, July 30, 2004
  Cantata: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140, 5. Recitative: So geh herein zu mir
Johann Sebastian Bach
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 6 Track 9

How should a love letter be preserved? Unlike the tenor who sang earlier in this cantata, the bass singer on this track delivers the sweetness possible in the German language. The intimacy of the text and Bach's passionate setting of it suggest that he may have had his wife in mind while writing. To my ears, it is intimacy and passion like this that makes Bach's music, in general, so appealing. He wrote for his moment fully.

Setting the mood, the string orchestra creates a halo around the loving Basso. The long sustained soft pitches gently and perhaps surreptitiously move the listener from E flat to B flat. Although this device was important to Bach as a transition from the preceding chorale to the following Duet, because of his level of craft, this movement is a fulfilling, albeit brief, work of art on its own.

What I like about this recitative that could have been written for Barry White is the setting of "nun die Angst, den Schmerz." Especially the sympathetic "nun die" that approaches the word "Angst." Mr. Bach's use of conventional dissonance for these sensitive words successfully conveys the lover's sympathy for past troubles.

Read also Robert Gable's recommendations of Glass as well as Getty, about Martinique nature as seen by Mwanji Ezana, more on the Baroque from Charles T. Downey, Jens F. Laurson's comments on Parsifal, about Alex Ross' return from Bayreuth and learn the story of a dog.

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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

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