Bach Cantata BWV 103 dates from Bach's second year in Leipzig. As is true of so many cantatas from that period, the work is heavily weighted to the remarkable and profound opening chorus. The simultaneous weeping and rejoicing that is the basis of the text is something that music can do better than words. The mournful chromatic lines of the chorus are punctuated by the laughing, almost cackling, arpeggios of the piccolo. Almost imperceptibly the harshness of the chromaticism and the laughing arpeggios join forces to make, by the end of the movement, a euphonious whole. The gracious alto aria with flute softens much of the harshness of the message of the opening chorus. The triumphant tenor aria with obbligato trumpet announces a sea change in the character of the cantata. The final chorale harmonization of "Was mein Gott will, dass g'scheh allzeit" announces a proper benediction.

©Craig Smith

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