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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Man singet mit Freuden vom Sieg (Let songs of rejoicing be raised)

Cantata 149

  • St. Michael
  • Epistle: Revelations xii. 7-12 (War in Heaven)
  • Gospel: Matthew xviii. 1-11 (Whoever humbles himself is greatest in heaven)
  • Rating: 2+

Those of you who are familiar with the Hunt Cantata, BWV 208, will recognise the opening movement immediately as being an adaptation of the concluding chorus of that famous work. And a very nice adaptation it is too, the trumpets providing a suitably stirring call to rejoicing. The bass aria that follows provides an opportunity for the listener to relax after such a high octane start but certainly does not provide the same opportunity to the soloist. Although simply scored for continuo, bassoon and voice, the soloist has to be very mobile to match the staccato bassoon and make the most of this movement. A recitative is followed by a very simple but beautiful soprano aria. Another example, surely, of one of those movements that could quite happily be extracted from the context of its cantata and performed as a concert piece by a clear toned soprano. A further recitative is followed by an alto/tenor duet that is introduced and accompanied by the most athletic of bassoon lines. Although by no means inadequate, the vocal line is rather outshone by the accompaniment. The cantata draws to a close with a straightforward chorale setting. Mind you, watch for the last two bars!

Copyright © 1997 & 1998, Simon Crouch.