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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Herr Christ, der ein'ge Gottessohn (Lord Christ, the only Son of God)

Cantata 96

  • Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity
  • Epistle: 1 Corinthians i. 4-8 (Paul gives thanks for the grace of God given to the Corinthians)
  • Gospel: Matthew xxii. 34-46 (The first great commandment)
  • Rating: 1+

If you enjoy BWV 1 How brightly shines the morning star then perhaps this is the next cantata that you should turn to. A different hymn (by Elisabeth Kreutziger) but the same allusion: He is the Morning Star….far brightest star of all and musically (in the first chorus) a similar treatment. The sparkling opening chorus is one of my favourites and is unusual in having a flauto piccolo (equivalent to our sopranino recorder) chattering beautifully away at the top of the orchestra. Also unusual is that the alto line holds the cantus firmus. After a recitative, the tenor da capo aria is quite long but the level of inspiration is more than enough to hold the attention; the flute has an especially enjoyable line. The bass aria is, perhaps, a lot more straightforward but conveys the text well and the cantata finishes with an especially fine chorale harmonisation.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.