John Eliot Gardiner The Monteverdi Choir The English Baroque Soloists Soloists: Joanne Lunn / Robin Tyson / Daniel Taylor / Christoph Genz / Brindley Sherratt / Gotthold Schwarz
J.S. Bach: Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns hält BWV 178 / Es werden viele zu mir sagen an jenem Tage - BWV 45 Part II no. 4 / Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott BWV 101 / Herr, deine Augen sehen nach dem Glauben! - BWV 102 Part I no. 1
John Eliot Gardiner’s choral Pilgrimage exploring the magnificence and grandeur of all of Bach’s cantatas continues with this 2CD release, combining cantatas for the eighth and tenth Sunday after Trinity, recorded live in August 2000.
For the first set of Cantatas we join John Eliot in Rendsburg, Germany and begin with a performance of the glorious, vehement BWV 178 Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns hält, premiered in Leipzig on 20th July 1724. Deriving from the Gospel reading (Matthew 7:15-23), the cantata warns against hypocrites and false prophets. With its opening powerful chorus described as ’quite astonishing’ by John Eliot, the mood is set for this chilling cantata fraught with anger and a grim mood of foreboding.
In contrast, hope and belief permeate the following two cantatas; BWV 136 Erforsche mich, Gott, und erfahre mein Herz and BWV 45 Es ist dir gesagt, Mensch, was gut ist. The penitential tone of BWV 136 is stressed through the beautifully crafted pleas of ‘Prüfe mich’ (‘Try me’) which appear in the extensive opening choral fugue. BWV 45 is Bach’s last surviving cantata for this Sunday and is replete with emotional turmoil. From the clear weighty injunction ‘to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God’ of the first part, to the bold virtuosic bass aria condemning false prophets opening the second, the juxtaposition of the themes of damnation and salvation in this cantata are clear.
We are then taken to Braunschweig, Germany and open with Bach’s first Leipzig cantata for this Sunday, BWV 46 Schauet doch und sehet, ob irgendein Schmerz sei. Here on the tenth Sunday after Trinity the Gospel (Luke 19:41-48) tells us how Jesus predicted the imminent destruction of Jerusalem. Bach, unsurprisingly, excels producing a richly thematic cantata depicting clearly the story’s vivid, unsettling patterns of destruction and restoration, of God’s anger and Christ’s mercy.
The antithesis between God’s anger and mercy resurfaces in Bach’s two later cantatas for this Sunday; BWV 101 Nimm von uns Herr, du treuer Gott and BWV 102 Herr, deine Augen sehen nach dem Glauben! In contrast to BWV 101 that is based largely on the hymn of the day sung to the melody of Luther’s German version of the Lord’s Prayer, BWV 102 does not, stressing again Bach’s innovative and unpredictable genius.
With their customary brilliance and expert musicianship, the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists triumph, making this the ideal next instalment in what many have already come to regard as the first choice of recorded Bach Cantata series.