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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

In allen meinen Taten (In all that I am doing)

Cantata 97

  • Unspecified Occasion
  • Rating: 3+

This cantata really is, with a couple of honourable exceptions, a really rather depressingly dull affair! The problems really spring from an exceptionally poor text that is not very far from doggerel. The sleeve notes of my recording (Harnoncourt on Teldec) plead a special case that Bach had gone out of his way in this late (1734) cantata to make up for the poor text by artful composition and by much hidden symbolism in the music. It may be then that you will profit more by studying the score of this work than by listening to it.

The exceptions to this rather damning review are the opening and closing movements. The opening chorus is an overture in the French style with heavily dotted rhythms and an attractive vivace fugue and the closing chorale harmonisation is of Isaac's exceptionally beautiful tune O Welt ich muss dich lassen (see BWV 13, for example) here expanded from four part choral harmony to seven (a symbolic number!) parts by the instrumental parts. In between these two movements is a sequence of five dull arias. If you must listen to any of them, listen to the final soprano aria.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.

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