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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Wohl dem, der sich auf seinen Gott recht kindlich kann verlassen! (Well for him, who can depend, childlike, on his God)

Cantata 139

  • Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity
  • Epistle: Phil. iii. 17-21 (Follow not carnal things, as many do)
  • Gospel: Matthew xxii. 15-22 (The Pharisees and the tribute to Caesar)
  • Rating: 2+

The opening chorus of the chorale cantata BWV 139 is to my ears a very beautiful and genial piece and I would thoroughly recommend that you listen at least to this movement if you listen to nothing else here. The rest of the cantata follows the standard form of recitative, aria, recitative, aria, recitative and final chorale. The first aria, for the tenor soloist, has a fairly athletic violin accompaniment and scuttles along pleasantly. The second aria, this time for the bass soloist, is perhaps more interesting, with several sections and contrasting moods. In both of the arias a certain amount of reconstruction for the solo instruments has to be done because the cantata has only come down to us as a set of apparently incomplete parts. The cantata ends with a straightforward chorale setting.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.