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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Gott fähret auf mit Jauchzen (God goeth up with exultation)

Cantata 43

  • Ascension
  • Epistle: Acts i. 1-11 (Christ prepares His disciples for the Ascension)
  • Gospel: Mark xvi. 14-20 (Christ ascends into heaven)
  • Rating: 2+

You may immediately spot that something is a little odd about the structure of cantata BWV 43 from the fact that it manages to fit eleven movements into the space of only a little over twenty minutes. In fact, it begins in a fairly conventional manner with biblical texts but then starts using the verses (six in all) of an anonymous hymn and finishes with a chorale consisting of two versus of another hymn. What's more, this division is not reflected in the division of the cantata into two parts, with the first verse of the six verse chunk ending the first part of the cantata. The four arias of this cantata do not follow the usual da capo form. Presumably Bach was writing to a time constraint and therefore had to cut the arias shorter than is usual. This procedure does seem to rescue the piece from a sprawling fate! The highpoint of this cantata is in it's magnificent opening chorus: A short adagio oboe and string section leading to the thrilling trumpet and choral entries. Notable amongst the four arias is the seventh movement bass aria with its virtuoso trumpet part (which was apparently re-written for violin on a later occasion due to the lack of anyone to play it!) and the ninth movement alto aria. The other arias (together with the connecting recitatives) are pleasant without being memorable.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.