J.S. Bach: The Church Cantatas, Vol. 1: Easter Oratorio, BWV 249

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The Easter Oratorio BWV 249, the first of the three works Bach called an Oratorio (the Christmas Oratorio BWV 248 and the Ascension Oratorio BWV 11 are the later examples), is compiled of earlier material conceived for secular purposes. The original composition was a congratulatory cantata (BWV 249a) written for the birthday of Duke Christian of Saxony‐Weissenfels (1682–1736) and performed on 23 February 1725. The music for this cantata was promptly re‐used for a liturgical work celebrating the first Easter feria of the same year (i.e. 1 April 1725).

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Artists: Christine Brenk (soprano), Anne Greiling (alto), Frank Bossert (tenor), Thomas Pfeiffer (bass), Trompetenensemble Pfeiffer, Motettenchor Pforzheim, Südwestdeutsches Kammerorchester Pforzheim, Rolf Schweizer (conductor)

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The composition consists of eleven numbers, of which the first two (Sinfonia and Adagio) are purely instrumental, almost certainly taken from a concerto, one of the many written at Köthen, just as it is probable that No.3 of the Oratorio (a duet, then transformed into a chorus in a revival of the work that took place after 1740) might well have been the original concluding Allegro of this or some other concerto. The concerto style manifest in the first three movements of the cantata is followed by the style of the suite, found in the later movements. Thus, No.5 is a Tempo di minuetto, No.7 is a Bourrée, No.9 a Gavotte and No. 11 a Gigue. There is no cause for surprise here: examples of dance forms applied to arias in liturgical cantatas are extremely frequent in Bach (one could enumerate at least a hundred). The galant style was, therefore, a banner under which Bach by no means refused to serve; he applied himself to cultivating, with consummate art, a taste and a manner that were specific attributes of his time.

Oster-Oratorium, BWV 249:
00:00 I. Sinfonia
04:13 II. Adagio
08:26 III. Duetto and Chorus. Kommt, eilet und laufet
13:27 IV. Recitativo. O kalter Männer Sinn
14:26 V. Aria. Seele, deine Spezereien (Soprano)
25:37 VI. Recitativo. Hier ist die Gruft
26:21 VII. Aria. Sanfte soll mein Todeskummer (Tenor)
32:56 VIII. Recitativo. Indessen seufzen wir (Soprano, Alto)
33:53 IX. Aria. Saget, saget mir geschwinde (Alto)
40:54 X. Recitativo. Wir sind erfreutt
41:32 XI. Chorus. Preis und Dank
44:07 XII. Chorale. Es hat mit uns nun keine Not

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