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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt (The Lord is my true shepherd)

Cantata 112

  • Second Sunday after Easter
  • Epistle: 1 Peter ii. 21-25 (You were as sheep, gone astray)
  • Gospel: John x. 11-16 (I am the good shepherd)
  • Rating: 1+

This short chorale cantata is the last of three set on the theme of the good shepherd. You might like to listen to BWV 104 and BWV 85 to compare with this one. The opening chorus is one of Bach's finest, there's an almost hypnotic figure played by the horns that introduces a melody that may be familiar to you: Decius's Allein Gott in der Hoh sei ehr. This setting really is very, very beautiful. (Alas, I have to advise you to steer clear of Harnoncourt's recording on Teldec - the horns are distressingly out of tune! It's a great shame that Karl Richter appears not to have recorded this cantata. I'm sure that he would have done something very special indeed. However, Rilling provides us with an admirable substitute). The following aria is really a duet between the alto vocalist and the oboe d'amore, accompanied by continuo. This is a very gentle and very beautiful movement with gloriously flowing melody. A recitative leads into a vocal duet between soprano and tenor which is more up tempo than the alto aria. Indeed, the string orchestral accompaniment provides an excellent hook! The cantata draws to a close with a straightforward (but very impressive) setting of the hymn tune.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.