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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Ach, lieben Christen, seid getrost (Ah, dear Christians, be comforted)

Cantata 114

  • Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity
  • Epistle: Ephesians iv 1-6 (Exhortation to unity)
  • Gospel: Luke xiv. 1-11 (Christ heals the dropsical man)
  • Rating: 1

You might be slightly surprised at the high rating that I give this chorale cantata. On a first listen, nothing particularly stands out (apart, perhaps, from the flute part in the first aria). But I have found on repeated listening that this is one of those pieces of music that has really grown on me. Each part is so perfectly well done. The orchestral introduction to the first movement, a chorus, sets the serious mood. The libretto of the hymn is concerned with the heavy yoke that the Christian has to bear. Throughout the verse the orchestral part, accompanying the hymn tune, is especially notable. The long aria for alto that follows again may strike you as rather dull, the accompaniment is spare, but pay it attention and you'll find that all its components work together extremely well, with the excellent and virtuoso flute part melding the whole together. I think that it's one of Bach's best contemplative arias. After a recitative, the soprano soloist simply intones one of the verses of the hymn and this is followed by a more up-beat aria for alto. Here, the orchestral accompaniment is something special. The cantata concludes with a straightforward setting of the sixth verse of the hymn.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.