Monday, January 23, 2012

In praise of Johann Sebastian Bach (3)

As someone recently said: "there are many great composers, and then there is J. S. Bach". Bach composed this beautiful aria, "Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust" ("Contented rest, beloved inner joy") in 1726. It opens his solo cantata BWV 170. Evidently he had an excellent alto soloist in his choir to be able to devote a whole cantata to one soloist (here it's sung by the incomparable Janet Baker). This poignant cantata was first performed in Leipzig on 28 July 1726, just 27 days after the death of his 3 year old daughter Christiana Sophia Henrietta. One can only imagine the emotions Johann Sebastian and his young wife Anna Magdalena must have been feeling at such a sad time as this wistful song rung out for the first time at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig.

Janet Baker sings 'Vergnügte Ruh', beliebte Seelenlust' from the Cantata BWV 170 with the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields conducted by Neville Marriner (recorded in London, January 1966)

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