Monday, November 07, 2005

BWV 106

I sang in a Bach cantata concert yesterday. It was great.
We had a baroque orchestra which was really fabulous. There
were two amazing recorder players (yes, I know, it's hard to
believe a recorder can sound amazing, but you'll have to
take my word for it). One was on faculty at Oberlin, and
knows Richard. We did 182, which is really nice, but the
most wonderful part was 106. He was 22
years old, and wrote one of the great works of western
music. 18 minutes of pure bliss. The opening sinfonia is
basically a recorder duet. If you just listen to the
recording it's hard to tell what's going on, but they're
actually dovetailing all over the place. Really beautiful
writing. Like splitting one line between two people and
weaving it together in this awesome way. It is exquisite.
There's one movement where there's a beautiful bass solo.
Everything is going nicely, and then the alto section enters
with a counter theme. Just the alto section. It's
unexpected... and totally earth shattering. The last
movement, the choir is singing "It is an eternal law. Human,
you must die!" Intense, slow, heavy, etc. Then, out of
nowhere, a single soprano sings high above everyone else,
with this birdlike voice, "Jesus, come". Other worldly,
ethereal beauty.

I hate to give any ammunition to the misguided "intelligent
design" folks, but if they pointed to Johann Sebastian
instead of their other feeble arguments, I might nod my head
in nonplussed agreement...

"Now there is music from which a man can learn something." -- Mozart

"Not Brook (Ger. "Bach") but Ocean should be his name." -- Beethoven

"Playing and studying Bach convinces us that we are all numskulls." -- Schumann

"Study Bach: there you will find everything." -- Brahms

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