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Bach: The Sacred Cantatas

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Like you're in a place of complete bliss and delight and peace

    Cantata, a musical composition for voices and orchestra based on a religious text, was born sometime in the sixteenth century when music was mainly vocal. <BR/>In the beginning of the seventeenth century, Europe witnessed two main events relating to music: the advancement of instrumental composition and the beginning of an era of more developed instrumental ensemble personifying the feelings dwelt in the sonatas, these forming serene musical compositions of three or four contrasting courses. <BR/><BR/>Bach fulfilled his task to the brim; his church cantatas created part of the service (notably with memorial mass) when began with an expanded chorus followed by a couple of arias and recitatives ending with the choral. <BR/><BR/>Bach wrote his music for the Lutheran church, carefully based upon the gospel or the messages for the day; unconstrained procession of the mass was not met except when the cantata was short for the sermon to take place after the first chorus or after one of the arias; the congregation also came into the company of the final chorale. The integrity of the service was the integrity of the cantata, music and the chorale. <BR/><BR/>So, smooth flow of the service deepened as it depended on the unity and cohesion of the tone, using vocal accompaniment like harpsichord (or the organ) and some wind pipes. <BR/><BR/>In his capacity as choir director, Bach composed something like 200 sacred cantatas of which only 100 are still in existence. Although the majority of his work is religious, there are some 30 secular cantatas composed at Leipzig.<BR/><BR/>They are ALL splendid: <BR/>However, I urge you to listen to 157, 158, 159, 161, 162, 163 recognized in our modern times as some of the best ever produced for the church service

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