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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Bisher habt ihr nichts gebeten in meinen Namen (Hitherto have you asked nothing in my Name)

Cantata 87

  • Fifth Sunday after Easter (Rogation Sunday)
  • Epistle: Jas. i. 22-27 (Be you doers of the word)
  • Gospel: John xvi. 23-30 (What you ask in My name, the Father will give)
  • Rating: 2

Cantata BWV 87 concentrates on the darker aspects of the Sunday Gospel, the guilt and fears of man. This work is full of interest, yet I find that it does not move me. The attractive opening aria has a lively, but dark, minor key orchestral introduction. The alto aria has a fascinating accompaniment from a pair of oboes da caccia playing over an arpeggiated continuo. This gives the feeling of something rather evil bubbling up from the depths! The aria following the next recitative is little more than an arioso itself. The final tenor aria is perhaps the high point of the cantata: Fervent sorrow is poured out to the rhythm of a siciliano, over seventh chord harmonies. The setting of the final chorale (with the melody of Jesu, meine Freude) is itself very harmonically rich.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.

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