The wedding cantata BWV 196 probably contains little that will initially strike you as outstanding but repeated listening may convince that the lightness and simplicity of the music meshes perfectly with the simple and beautiful message of the text. So much so that perhaps the simplicity is the simplicity of a master craftsman. No journeyman could accomplish this! But then this work was composed early in Bach's career (1706/7) and perhaps one might see it as an apprentice's work hinting at the future glories to come.
An opening instrumental sinfonia (with the feel of chamber music) is followed by chorus, soprano aria, tenor and bass duet and a final, lively, chorus. Each is beautifully crafted, the solo/duet movements containing convincingly expressive writing and the choral movements a hint of the contrapuntal ability to follow.
Compare the simplicity of this cantata with the grandeur of another wedding cantata, BWV 195. Such a contrast between two very fine works!
Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.