Bach Cantata BWV 31 is a work from Bach's first great maturity. Written in 1716 in Weimar, it is one of the most majestic of the Weimar cantatas. It opens with a brilliant, energetic sinfonia, setting the stage for a wonderful, vibrant chorus. As is typical of Bach after the outgoing opening, the work goes inward. The bass recitative and aria have a starkness in contrast to the chorus. The tenor aria is much warmer and friendlier. It has a marvelous jaunty tune which curiously only appears in the strings, the tenor always singing an obbligato. The high point of the cantata is the heavenly soprano aria: only Bach could lead us to this transcendent, inward spot on Easter Day. A simple, almost folklike tune in the oboe is mirrored in the soprano. Against that, all of the strings play the chorale "Wenn mein Stündlein vorhanden ist," which is then sung in a rich, five-voice setting to bring the cantata to a quiet close.

©Craig Smith

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