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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Wie müssen durch viel Trübsal (We must through much tribulation)

Cantata 146

  • Third Sunday After Trinity
  • Epistle: 1 Peter ii. 11-20 (Suffer patiently for well-doing)
  • Gospel: John xvi. 16-23 (You now have sorrow, but your heart shall rejoice)
  • Rating: 1+

It's difficult to avoid thinking that Bach was having to fill a longer space in the service than usual with this cantata. There's a very long sinfonia, adapted (for organ) from the keyboard concerto BWV 1052 (itself adapted from a lost violin concerto) and then some very long arias. In total, the cantata runs well past forty minutes and apparently is not divided into two parts. Patience and perseverence is repaid by some wonderful music. After the sinfonia, the opening chorus continues the adaptation of BWV 1052, using the second movement with four voice parts superimposed. The result of this adaptation is a movement of quite outstanding beauty and considerable complexity. A gorgeous lament to the trials of life before salvation. The alto aria has a lovely musical theme and an "interesting" literary theme (Sodom and the singer are parted) but is, perhaps a little too long. Following a recitative is a pleasant soprano aria that, despite having a rather routine vocal line, benefits from a gorgeous instrumental ensemble of flute and a pair of oboes d'amore. After another recitative, an absolutely superb and upbeat tenor/bass duet ,i>Wie will ich mich freuen winds up the pace towards the final chorale. Since the finale chorale is missing in the transmitted sources, the verse Den wer selig dahin fähret is substituted, together with the melody Werde munter, meine Gemüte. Very beautiful it is too.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.

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