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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Ihr werdet weinen und heulen (You shall weep and lament)

Cantata 103

  • Third Sunday after Easter (Jubilate)
  • Epistle: 1 Peter ii. 11-20 (Suffer patiently for well-doing)
  • Gospel: John xvi. 16-23 (You now have sorrow, but your heart shall rejoice)
  • Rating: 1

Cantata BWV 103 is set for the same Sunday as the great Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen (BWV 12) and the atmosphere is similar, if perhaps not quite so extreme. Indeed, this is a much more intimate, personal approach to its dark subject. The most immediately noticeable feature of the opening chorus is the virtuoso sopranino recorder line that darts and gambols all over the place, high above the orchestra, before the entry of the chorus. There's some beautiful tone painting in this movement: Falling choral phrases for weeping and wailing (whilst the recorder howls above), staccato phrasing for the world shall be rejoicing: a feast for affekt spotters! Following a recitative, the vocal line of first aria is not particularly outstanding but the recorder part is wonderful. The second aria is more consistently interesting and enjoyable. The mood has changed to one of joy with the realisation of the return of Jesus. Certainly, the trumpets have a jolly good time establishing the new mood. The cantata closes with a straightforward chorale setting.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.