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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied! (Sing unto the Lord a new song!)

Cantata 190

  • Circumcision (New Year's Day)
  • Epistle: Galatians iii. 23-29 (We are all one in Christ)
  • Gospel: Luke ii. 21 (His name shall be called Jesus)
  • Rating: 2+

This cantata requires a bit of reconstruction since only the voice and violin I & II parts survive for the first two movements. However, using the observation that in Bach's cantatas the instrumentation of the first movement is usually that same as that for the last, this reconstruction can be achieved. A good thing too since this is a thoroughly attractive work. A grand trumpets-and-drums setting of the first verse of psalm 149 gets the cantata off to a fine start. This is followed by a chorale punctuated by recitative. A fine instrumental ritornello introduces the alto aria but somehow the vocal line fails to live up to the promise of the opening. After a further recitative, the tenor/bass duet is introduced by an attractive oboe d'amore figure (or is it a violin? The instrumentation is unclear in the sources). Again, however, the vocal parts don't really add much to the instrumental line. A final recitative leads into the closing chorale. Trumpets and drums give a suitably upbeat flourish to end.

Copyright © 1998, Simon Crouch.