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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Erfreute Zeit im neuen Bunde (Oh joyful day of our salvation)

Cantata 83

  • Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Epistle: Mal. iii. 1-4 (The Lord shall suddenly come to His temple)
  • Gospel: Luke ii. 22-32 (Simeon prophesies of Christ)
  • Rating: 1

There's more than a hint of Brandenburg Concerto about the opening movement of this cantata, amplified by the prominent horn parts. It's not inconceivable that we're hearing yet another piece of lost (violin?) concerto here. Indeed, the instrumental parts of this movement could quite happily stand on their own. However, the alto soloist slots in quite nicely to complete a very joyful opening to this cantata which, in partnership to the great BWV 82, revolves around the Nunc Dimittis. The following aria/recitative uses the first two verses of the Nunc Dimittis intoned with one of the plainsong psalm tunes. It's very striking. The tenor aria that follows might be taken as further evidence to support the idea of a lost violin concerto. Maybe not quite so clear but it abounds with attractive triplet rhythms. A final recitative and a straightforward chorale setting bring the cantata to a close.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.

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