Bach Cantata BWV 34, "O Ewiges Feuer," is a relatively late work. It began life in the 1730's as a wedding cantata. Certainly the ardent text of the opening chorus is both appropriate to a wedding as well as Pentecost. The beginning chorus is one of Bach's great choruses with trumpets. Bach never wrote a work in which the trumpets were more perfectly integrated into the choral and orchestral texture. The fugue on the text "Entzünde die Herze" is one of the most wonderful and passionate of all the Bach choral fugues. After a tenor recitative, the alto aria with flutes and muted strings is an amazing contrast. The gently rocking melody, with its rich contrapuntal underpinning, is magical in its floating harmony and its evocation of the "floating spirits." A bass recitative leads forcefully into the great choral exhortation for peace in Israel. The joyous quick music that follows brings the very great cantata to a rousing close.

©Craig Smith

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