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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

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Cantata 119

  • Leipzig Town Council Inauguration, 1723
  • Rating: 1

BWV 119 was written for the inauguration of the town council in the first year that Bach was at Leipzig. It shows! He went out of his way to provide spectacular accompaniment to the festivities with a cantata notable for the size and range of its orchestra. They get their chance right at the start with a French overture at the beginning of the opening chorus and once the choir have had their moment with their fugue, the overture returns to round out the movement. Things quieten down for a while with a recitative followed by a gentle, lilting tenor aria, perhaps most memorable for the long introduction and accompaniment by a pair of oboes da caccia: It is a most singular sound. If anybody had been quietly snoozing off in the back during the pastoral idyll of the tenor aria then they would have been woken with a start by the very noisy bass recitative, accompanied by trumpets, drums, recorders, oboes da caccia, bass and the kitchen sink. Quite astonishing. Our suddenly awakened listener would have been able to rest more easily next with an even more laid back alto aria, this time benefiting from a lengthy and attractive introduction from the recorders. Following the next recitative, there's a lengthy, monumental and attractive choral movement with a martial introduction from trumpet and drums. A recitative is followed by a straightforward chorale setting that brings the cantata to a close.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.