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Bach: Funeral Cantatas
     

Bach: Funeral Cantatas

by John Eliot Gardiner
 
Seventeenth-century philosopher Thomas Hobbes defined human life as "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short." Indeed, without being aware of the short life expectancies, high infant mortality rates, and ever-present threat of sickness and death during that period, it's impossible to fully understand the sacred music of J. S. Bach and his contemporaries. Functioning

Overview

Seventeenth-century philosopher Thomas Hobbes defined human life as "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short." Indeed, without being aware of the short life expectancies, high infant mortality rates, and ever-present threat of sickness and death during that period, it's impossible to fully understand the sacred music of J. S. Bach and his contemporaries. Functioning in tandem with religious faith, music was a comforting balm in the face of suffering. This volume of John Eliot Gardiner's cantata series, planned for the 250th anniversary year of Bach's own death, focuses specifically on mourning. "Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit," BWV 106 (also known as the "Actus tragicus"), and "Lass, Fürstin, lass noch einen Strahl," are odes for funeral services. Both are deeply moving works; the "Actus tragicus" extols in universal terms the paradise to be reached after death, while BWV 198 specifically commemorates the Electress Christiane of Saxony. The soloists in these recordings -- soprano Nancy Argenta, countertenor Michael Chance, tenor Anthony Rolfe Johnson, and bass Stephen Varcoe -- are all distinguished, though Rolfe Johnson's contribution is the most hauntingly eloquent. The Monteverdi Choir's singing in the cantatas has profound spiritual resonance, and they contribute a warm performance of Bach's motet "O Jesu Christ, mein's Lebens Licht," BWV 118/231 -- yet another work that looks forward to the happy promise of the afterlife. While Bach's music grew out of the theology of a specific time and place, the consolation it offers is not the least bit out of date.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/11/2000
Label:
Archiv Produktion
UPC:
0028946358122
catalogNumber:
463581
Rank:
142748

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Cantata No. 106, "Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit," ("Actus Tragicus"), BWV 106
  2. Cantata No. 118, "O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht," BWV 118
  3. Cantata No. 198, "Lass, Fürstin, lass noch einen Strahl," BWV 198

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