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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Ich liebe den Höchsten von Ganzem Gemute (I love the Highest with my Whole Mind)

Cantata 174

  • Whit Monday
  • Epistle: Acts x. 42-48 (Descent of the Holy Spirit upon Cornelius)
  • Gospel: John iii. 16-21 (God so loved the world)
  • Rating: 2+

BWV 174 is prefaced by an adaptation of the opening movement of the third Brandenburg Concerto. Since this is so well known, I will say nothing of this other than to point out that the adaptation amounts simply to the addition of horns and oboes (the former with their own new independent part). The addition of this movement bulks out what would otherwise be a rather short cantata. There are only two arias separated by a recitative and a final chorale. Of the two arias, the first for alto is perhaps the more attractive, swinging along in 6/8 time with a beautiful oboe introduction and accompaniment. The only thing that might count against this aria is its length (at around eight minutes) but here the beauty of the music outweighs any repetitiveness. The bass aria is more concentrated and benefits from a lovely accompanying tune on the strings and provides a suitable companion to its partner aria: Not as immediately attractive but by no means completely outshone.

Copyright © 1997 & 1998, Simon Crouch.