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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Gelobet sei der Herr (Praised be the Lord)

Cantata 129

  • Trinity Sunday
  • Epistle: Romans xi. 33-36 (Who can know the riches and wisdom and judgements of God)
  • Gospel: John iii. 1-15 (Nicodemus comes to Christ in the night)
  • Rating: 2+

Cantata BWV 129 is a chorale cantata based on a hymn by Johannes Olearius with melody by anonymous. It's a lovely little work. Everything is in miniature, even the festal opening and closing choruses, and I can't help thinking that Bach, had he wished to, could have built something really substantial out of this. As befits Trinity Sunday, the cantata is introduced with the sound of trumpets and drums in the grand opening movement. The heart of the cantata comprises three arias in a row, one each for bass, soprano and alto respectively. None of them is outstandingly memorable but each of them is finely crafted, elegant music. Most notable, perhaps, are the accompaniments: Continuo only in the bass aria; flute and violin in the soprano aria and oboe d'amore in the alto aria. The second is my favourite of these three. The cantata closes in a joyous mood with an elaborate but spacious orchestral setting of the chorale, prominently featuring the trumpet and drums again.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.