The opening chorus motors along in no-nonsense fashion, driven emphatically by a downward thrust from the oboes and strings which is repeated sixteen times during the movement. This brings to mind a recording I once heard of George Szell conducting Tchaikovsky's fourth symphony. Perhaps a similar level of white hot intensity has to be maintained to get the most out of this movement! The following bass aria isn't as intense but it's full of jerky leaps in the continuo, so the mood hasn't really settled down until the recitative. After this there's excellent duet between alto and tenor, singing in canon for much of the movement and driven on by a fine orchestral accompaniment. Since the words refer to following God with courageous footsteps, the use of canon seems appropriate. A soprano recitative leads on to the final chorale setting.
Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.