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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot (Bring the hungry man thy bread)

Cantata 39

  • First Sunday After Trinity
  • Epistle: 1 John iv. 16-21 (God is Love)
  • Gospel: Luke xvi. 19-31 (Dives and Lazarus)
  • Rating: 1

Listen to this cantata to hear a master craftsman at work! Perhaps there are not the greatest heights of Bach's melodic inspiration here, but what there is is wonderfully used. The best is probably first: An excellent opening chorus (setting some of the words of Isaiah) with orchestral introduction, choral middle and fugal end that may very well remind you in texture of the motets. After a bass recitative there are three arias in a row, for alto, bass and soprano respectively. (The cantata is in two parts, so there is a break after the alto aria). These are perfectly delightful without being outstanding. Most memorable is the intertwining of violin and oboe lines in the alto aria and the unison recorders in the soprano aria. The cantata ends with a straightforward chorale setting.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.