The title of this post is, of course, redundant. Bach was eloquence incarnate, in whatever form he composed or played. The concert JBO will perform on April 28/29 is an excellent example of eloquence, intensified by the gravitas of the two vocal works: Cantata 8, “Liebster Gott wann will Ich Sterben” and the Motet BWV 226, “Der Geist Hillft”.
The motet is for double chorus with strings accompanying chorus I and oboe band (two oboes, taille & bassoon) with chorus II. This work was composed in haste for the funeral of the Thomasschule rector who supplied Bach with many cantata libretti. The haste is reflected in the number of copyists who have been identified thru’ their handwriting: Specialists have identified the “hand” of Anna Magdalena Bach, Wilhelm Friedemann, Bach’s students Atnikol & Krebs, Bach himself and that of one of his regular copyists. Bach was clear about the desired compliment for such works, specifying 12 singers “so that if some are sick, as often happens, one can still perform eight-part motets” (this from his “Entwurf”). Thus, with no sickness, we have chorus I, one-per-part, and chorus II, two-per-part. The accompanying instruments are also one-per-part. The Cantata is focused on the transitory nature of our lives, with the opening choral fantasia representing the passage of time (pizzicato upper strings), and the beating heart (iterated high notes of the traverso).
The rest of the cantata is in a similar vein except for the bass aria which celebrates the coming of death with a joyous traverso obbligato: “when Jesus calls, who would not go?” The instrumentation includes two oboes d’amore in the opening and closing chorus adding solemnity with their unique timbre.
The a-minor violin concerto, however, is entirely unconcerned with death, being a joyous celebration of life, melody and counterpoint in the style of Vivaldi but with the added eloquence of Bach.
The Jefferson Baroque Orchestra launches its Baroque Blog today. We plan to publish informative and interesting articles, program notes for our concerts, and items of interest to all lovers of early music. Let us know if you have written an article you would like to share.
We are practitioners of “HIP”, a clever acronym for “Historically Informed Performance”. We do our best to present the music of the 17th & 18th centuries as it was presented then: as something fresh and new.
In our search for the sounds and performing styles of the period we use the instruments, techniques and singing styles known to Baroque composers and performers. We play from editions free of 19th century accretions, or from facsimiles of original prints or manuscripts. We choose performing venues for intimacy and acoustic clarity; and we try to play and sing in such a way that the music seems as new as when the ink was still wet.
Making the Music
While the musicians who direct our concerts are among the most respected Early Music performers and teachers, most of us are not Early Music specialists. Our members perform with the Rogue Valley Symphony, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Green Show, Rogue Opera, Ashland City Band, Southern Oregon Repertory Singers and Siskiyou Singers. Most of us are not professional musicians – among us are doctors, nurses, attorneys, computer programmers, mechanics, artisans and teachers. But we all share a love for this music and a dedication to share the best possible performances with our audiences. Please help us to spread the word!