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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Tritt auf die Glaubensbahn (Walk in the way of faith)

Cantata 152

  • Sunday after Christmas
  • Epistle: Galatians iv. 1-7 (Christ is sent to redeem those under the law)
  • Gospel: Luke ii. 33-40 (Christ is born for the redemption of Israel)
  • Rating: 1

Written early in Bach's career at Weimar, the solo cantata BWV 152 starts with a most attractive concerto. There's four bars of rather stately introduction in common time followed by a permutation fugue that skips along in 3/8. The subject (which you may wish to compare with that from BWV 536) is introduced by the recorder and developed by the oboe, viola d'amore (an instrument that has sympathetically resonating strings beneath the fingerboard) and the viola da gamba. The bass aria that follows has one of those wonderfully plaintive oboe lines, at which Bach so excelled, weaving in and out of the vocalist's line. The recitative has a nice leap down and up for the soloist at the words zum fall und Auferstehen! The soprano aria has a beautiful and elegant accompaniment from the recorder and viola d'amore and requires a singer of pure voice and even tone to do justice to the long held notes. After a recitative, the cantata is rounded off by a fine bass/soprano dialogue where the soul enquires of Jesus how to obtain salvation. The recorder and oboe play most effectively in unison in this movement.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.