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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Sei Lob und Ehr dem Höchsten Gut (All glory to the Lord most high)

Cantata 117

  • Unspecified occasion
  • Rating: 2+

This chorale cantata, set for what must have been a very festive occasion long forgotten, is pervaded with the spirit of the dance! Triple time is omnipresent and Bach's music mostly makes the best of some really rather dull words. Nine movements are crammed into the space of only about twenty minutes. We start with a dance: The opening chorus sets the hymn tune simply with a very attractive orchestral accompaniment. A recitative is followed by the tenor aria, again tripping along with the oboe d'amore. A simple chorale setting, followed by a recitative, leads into the bass aria which is probably the least successful of the movements. The dullness of the words finally triumphs over melody and accompaniment. However, this is followed by the gem of the cantata: The alto aria, which really does set one wanting to dance around the room! A lovely orchestral accompaniment with the flute to the fore adds to the delight of this verse. The cantata draws to a close with a recitative followed by a straightforward chorale setting.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.

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