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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Leichtgesinnte Flattergeister (Scatterbrained and shallow people)

Cantata 181

  • Sexuagesima Sunday
  • Epistle: 2 Corinthians xi. 19-xii. 9 (Paul justifies himself)
  • Gospel: Luke viii. 4-15 (The parable of the sower)
  • Rating: 2+

A short cantata (around fifteen minutes long) that opens with a bass aria setting the words of the title to a motif oft repeated throughout the movement. Muscular and uncompromising as befit the words. The recitative that follows contains an arioso section that is noticeable for its resemblance to the theme of the fugue of BWV 541. The tenor aria that follows this is missing its violin accompaniment. This, alas, does subtract from the weight of the music. You won't be charmed by the words: The venomous brambles of pleasure and again, Will furnish to Satan a fuel eternal, To feed the fire and redouble the pain, Of torment eternal! A final recitative leads into the jewel of this cantata: A glorious final movement chorus that surely must have been parodied (or plain copied) from a far greater (lost) work. It's one of those pieces that when you hear it, you're sure that you've heard it before but you can't remember where. If you've not heard it, please make an effort to do so, you won't be disappointed!

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.