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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Jesu, nun sei gepreiset (Jesu, now let us praise Thee)

Cantata 41

  • Circumcision (New Year's Day)
  • Epistle: Galatians iii. 23-29 (We are all one in Christ)
  • Gospel: Luke ii. 21 (His name shall be called Jesus)
  • Rating: 2+

The opening movement of the chorale cantata BWV 41 must surely be one of Bach's most enjoyable choruses. A glorious fanfare on the trumpets introduces their wonderful and prominent part in this movement. The choir singing the lines of the chorale, a simple but beautiful adagio middle section and a final choral fugue (from the lower voices) go to make this a movement that you must hear! Although this cantata is longer than average at around thirty minutes, it has the simple form of chorus, aria, recitative, aria, recitative, chorale. Both of the arias and the opening chorus are relatively long. Indeed, the latter weighs in at around ten minutes but there's no suggestion that it outstays its welcome. The first aria, for soprano, maintains the high standard set by the opening chorus. It's a delightful pastoral movement in a flowing 6/8 time with a lovely melodic introduction and accompaniment from the trio of oboes. The second and final aria, for tenor, is a disappointment. It's not unattractive, but presented alongside the other two movements its spare accompaniment and relatively uninteresting vocal line (and its length) rather lets the side down. The finale chorale is a straightforward harmonisation but the trumpet fanfare from the opening movement is played between each line of the verse. It's a very effective ending to the cantata.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.