Pamela Dellal, mezzo soprano


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Bach Cantata Notes

BWV 70

Most of the music for today’s cantata, BWV 70, was composed in Weimar in 1716.  For subsequent Leipzig  performances in 1723 and 1731, Bach added four recitatives and a chorale, thus making it appropriate for the Sunday before Advent.  BWV 70  concerns the Day of Last Judgment as depicted today’s gospel of Luke. The cantata opens with a rousing chorus warning of the last judgment with a prominent "last trumpet" obbligato. After the brightness of this chorus, the veiled quality of the alto aria with its mournful cello obbligato is an enormous contrast. The soprano aria with strings has surprising vehemence and real spite. The first part ends with the chorale "Freu dich sehr." The second part of the cantata begins with an open and friendly tenor aria that makes it seem as if the tide has turned. The bass recitative with the eschatological chorale "Es ist gewisslich an der Zeit," played by the trumpet, turns us back to the last judgment. This is one of the most ferociously dramatic of all Bach recitatives. The aria that follows is an island of quiet interrupted by more last judgment music. The quiet close to the aria brings us to the heavenly seven-voice harmonization of the chorale, "Meinem Jesum lass ich nicht."

©Craig Smith