Bach Cantata BWV 30 has an unusual history. It began life as a secular cantata in honor of a Leipzig town official. It would seem that Bach had in mind from its conception that it would be converted into a cantata. Few of Bach's parody works fit as naturally and well in both of their sets of words. The work begins with an animated and lively chorus. A bass recitative leads us into the dazzling and brilliant aria with strings. The roulades shared by both the strings and the singer are so natural seeming that their difficulty isn't apparent. The high point of the cantata is the haunting and inward aria for alto with flute and strings. The key word here is "grace". Indeed one can hardly think of another Bach aria that so profoundly illustrates a state of grace. The gentle dance rhythms are celestial and heavenly in their inexorable progress. A setting of the chorale "Freu dich sehr" ends the first half of the cantata. A bass recitative with oboes introduces the gallant and pointed aria. Stylistically this is the one movement that is typical of Bach's interest in the 1730s with the gallant style. The big rolling arpeggios that accompany the soprano aria not only illustrate the running of the sinner but also the smoke rising from the altars in the tents of Kedar. The opening chorus is repeated at the end of this cantata instead of a chorale.

©Craig Smith

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