Cantata 158 opens with a complex dialogue between solo violin and oboe, each instrument anxiously and repeatedly delivering their line one after the other. For me, this active writing suggests instability. Bach’s audience would know to expect a narrative next and I wonder, is there a conflict in the story to come?
While this week's performance does not include the opening Sinfonia of BWV 158, if you can listen at a later date, you will encounter a dialogue between the solo violin and oboe which foreshadows the spiritual journey of the entire piece.
The text then delivered by the bass, the human narrator of this cantata, depicts a struggle between seeking peace, offered by Christ himself, while carrying an agitated conscience.
Then the promise of Heaven as the soprano, at times magically uplifted by the oboe doubling her voice, layers a celestial chorale on top of the busy violin line and the text sung by the bass. Each of these lines moves at a different tempo underscoring that dissimilar activity, in music and life, can be simultaneous.
The salvation of Easter is delivered in the final chorale, Hallelujah.