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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen (Beloved Jesus, my desire)

Cantata 32

  • First Sunday after Epiphany
  • Epistle: Romans xii. 1-6 (We are at one in Christ)
  • Gospel: Luke ii. 41-52 (Jesus in the temple)
  • Rating: 2+

Cantata 32 is a good example of a dialogue cantata. In this case, as is so often, the dialogue is between Jesus and the soul. The cantata opens with a fine aria introduced by a plaintive oboe line, which the soprano soloist later picks up. The soul is momentarily distressed by the absence of Jesus. This is a very beautiful movement. After a recitative the bass, representing Jesus, has a long aria most notable for the virtuoso violin accompaniment. The next recitative itself takes the form of a dialogue between the soul and Jesus. The dialogue continue in the final duet. I cannot resist quoting Robertson here: "It is to be hoped that the 'pop' boys do not get hold of this number: they would inevitably vulgarise it". (!) I do not see the same degree of attractiveness in this movement that he does, it is fine but in the context of the cantatas not outstandingly so. The cantata closes with a straightforward chorale setting.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.