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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Es wartet alles auf dich (They are all waiting on Thee)

Cantata 187

  • Seventh Sunday after Trinity
  • Epistle: Romans vi. 19-23 (The wage of sin is death)
  • Gospel: Mark viii. 1-9 (Christ feeds the four thousand)
  • Rating: 1

A first listen to this cantata might lead you to the conclusion that I had lost my marbles in giving it such a high rating. Pleasant yes, but so good? Well, I think so and perhaps I am supported in my belief by Bach himself who parodied the music of this cantata in his g minor Mass BWV 235. Incidentally, if you have never heard the "little" Masses BWV 233-236 please go out of your way to do so. Perhaps they're not so transcendently gripping as their big brother but they are delightful pieces. Indeed, I got to know BWV 235 well before I had ever heard its model BWV 187.

None of the music of this cantata leaps out and grabs you, it's all gentle and seductively beautiful. Nowhere is this more true than in the long opening chorus. You'll probably notice the dueting oboes as the most outstanding feature on the first few listens but listen some more and you'll hear Bach build a tremendous choral edifice out of seemingly little. A recitative is followed by an equally gentle alto aria that lilts along in 3/8 with a flowing legato melody. The second part of the cantata is opened by an attractive bass aria which is then followed by the most pulse quickening of the movements, an aria for soprano accompanied by solo oboe. This still doesn't work up much of a sweat though! The cantata closes with a straightforward chorale setting.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.