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8.550763 - BACH, J.S.: Magnificat in D Major, BWV 243 / Ich habe genug, BWV 82
J. S. Bach (1685 - 1750)
Magnificat in D, BWV 243
These works both received their first performances in Leipzig – the Magnificat in 1723 and Cantata 82 in 1727. It was in 1723 that Bach had taken up the post of Kantor at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, having previously been Kapellmeister to Prince Leopold in Cöthen. The Magnificat was originally heard in a version in E flat major at Christmas Vespers when movements with seasonal texts were inserted; the version included on this disc was rendered by Bach some years later, returning to the ordinary Magnificat text in order to make the work performable all year round. Bach's approach to the evening canticle is characteristically large-scale. There is no use of recitative, owing perhaps to the poetic nature of the text: the verses have little natural hierarchy and it is appropriate that they should all be afforded extended settings. The scoring is unusually rich and includes three trumpets, two flutes, two oboes, strings, continuo, and timpani - one of the largest ensembles to be assembled at the Thomaskirche in Bach's time. Bach takes a literal view of the text in which, for instance, the full five-part choir is used to demonstrate Omnes generationes (" All generations") with soloists used for the more reflective movements. In a typically Bachian gesture the opening material returns for Sicut erat in principio (" As it was in the beginning").
Cantata 82 (Ich habe genug) was written for the Feast of the Purification (2nd February) in 1727. In accordance with the principles of Pietism the text does not refer directly to a biblical event (in this case, the reaction of Simeon to the experience of seeing the infant Jesus in the temple), but obliquely, in paraphrase. It reflects upon approaching death, depicting a progression from resignation to the end of earthly life in the first aria to positive joy at the prospect of eternal life in the last. The cantata form as we encounter it here is a cross between the German 18th-century church cantata and the Italian cantata spirituale in that it contains a sequence of arias separated by recitative, but was intended for church use. Part of Bach's work as Kantor involved the provision of a cantata every Sunday for performance at the Hauptgottesdienst, or main service. Considering that his singers were culled from the local Thomasschule, it was imperative that the bulk of the music be left to competent soloists, and in several of Bach's cantatas the chorus sings only a chorale at the end. A few, such as Ich habe genug, are written entirely for one soloist. The three arias that form the bulk of this cantata are all superb examples of Bach's artistry. The outer movements share the time-signature of 3/8, but could not be more different in character, the first highly reminiscent of Erbarme, dich from the St. Matthew Passion, the last a gigue whose eloquent melismas graphically illustrate the idea of final release and joy. The middle movement, Schlummert ein, uses falling phrases and subdominant inflexions to represent sleep.
Northem Chamber Orchestra, Manchester
Concerts take the orchestra throughout the North of England and it has received four major European bursaries for its achievements in the community. With a series of recordings for Naxos the orchestra makes its debut on disc.
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