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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin (With peace and joy I journey thither)

Cantata 125

  • Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Epistle: Mal. iii. 1-4 (The Lord shall suddenly come to His temple)
  • Gospel: Luke ii. 22-32 (Simeon prophesies of Christ)
  • Rating: 1

An introduction in 12/8 time usually means something very special in Bach's works and the opening chorus of the chorale cantata BWV 125 is no exception! The profound opening of Martin Luther's free rendering of the Nunc Dimittis is introduced by a slowly dancing solo flute leading in an answer from the oboe and the support of the full orchestra. Put this one alongside the opening of the St. Matthew Passion. The latter may be more impressive in its scale and architecture but the former loses nothing in beauty. The very long slow alto aria that follows this impressive opening is itself equally remarkable. One might think that boredom would set in at around the five minute mark but the alto soloist is beautifully accompanied by a flute and an oboe d'amore who together maintain the interest and attention throughout with some lovely harmonies and some really scrunchy discords. Excellent. A recitative with chorale interpolation follows and then a tuneful and lively duet between tenor and bass livens up the action. A recitative leads into the final chorale setting.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.