back to St Michael main page

Bach by Candlelight Church Cantata Series

Sacred Cantatas Continue at St Michael & All Angels

After a summer break, the complete cycle of Bach’s surviving sacred cantatas, featuring the West London Bach Consort and Players, resumes at 7:30pm on Sunday 13th September at St Michael and All Angels Church. This month’s programme brings together BWV 28 Gottlob! Nun geht das Jahr zu Ende with BWV 101 Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott - two large-scale cantatas which are rich in variety and in instrumental colour. Each of them uses a large palette of instruments, with three oboes complementing the string section. And in the grand chorale choruses, each of the vocal parts is reinforced by a cornett or trombone. Add to that some florid obbligatos for oboe da caccia and flute, and you have an extraordinary range of sonorities to go hand in hand with Bach’s spiritual message.

BWV 28 Gottlob! Nun geht das Jahr zu Ende marks the passing of the old year and coming of the new in the church calendar. Its opening soprano aria calls on the soul to remember God’s gifts in the year which draws to a close, and asks for a song of thanks in hope of continued blessings in the new year. BWV 101 Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott is a passionate piece written with a dramatic episode in Luke’s gospel in mind - the passage where Jesus drives the traders out of the temple in Jerusalem, saying that they have made it a robber’s cave. Before that, when he enters Jerusalem, he prophesies the destruction of the great city. So the mood of BWV 101 is somber, with a profoundly emotional text that covers remorse, anger and God’s grace. It is a chorale cantata, which means that Bach bases almost every movement on the text of the chorale or hymn, using the lines as they are in the outer movements, and splitting the lines up to comment on them in the inner ones. And that allowed him to create a chiastic structure of seven movements - opening and closing with a chorale-based chorus; an aria or duet second and sixth; recitative-style commentaries third and fifth; and a central aria. So alongside the drama and the spiritual commitment of the music, Bach creates a strong mathematical and musical structure.

Rebecca Hickey (soprano); Toby Gee (alto), Tom Cragg (tenor) and Jonathan Saunders (bass) are the soloists; and the West London Bach Consort and Players are conducted by Sandy Burnett.

Future performances in 2009:

11th October BWV 4
BWV 111 Christ lag in Todes Banden
Was mein Gott will, das g’scheh allzeit

15th November BWV 109
BWV 91 Ich glaube, lieber Herr, hilf meinem Unglauben
Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ

13th December BWV 157
BWV 158
BWV 197a Ich lasse dich nicht, du segnest mich denn
Der Friede sei mit dir
Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe

St Michael and All Angels Church
Bath Road Chiswick London W4 1TT
Sundays 7:30-8:30 pm

Nearest tube: Turnham Green

This commentary was written by Sandy Burnett.

(For concerts and other secular events, click here)