I have to disappoint you and I have to make a confession.
First, the disappointment: While I will still post an article every week, I won’t discuss any cantata recordings until Easter. Bach did not write any cantatas for Lent, as church services were to be without music during Lent (the 40 days before Easter) and Advent (the 4 weeks before Christmas). He could probably use the break to work on his St. John Passion in 1724, to rewrite it in 1725, and to work on his St. Matthew Passion the next few years. I can use the break too, to write about the why and how of this blog, and to write a little more about Bach’s life.
Second, the confession: With my head too much in the books versus checking the trusted Bach cantatas website, I have messed up the order in which I wanted to present these cantatas to you, at least for the last few weeks.
One of the main reasons I started this blog was to honor my late musician/teacher mother, and to continue her legacy of playing the appropriate Bach cantata every Sunday. In the church newsletter she would look up what Sunday it was, and then she would open the little red book by Alfred Dürr (it actually consisted of two Deutsche Taschenbuch Verlag books at the time, nowadays available as one single book in English or in German), and look up which cantatas Bach wrote for that Sunday. Then she would look through her collection of Leonhardt/Harnoncourt LPs, and if she had a recording, she would put it on the turn table, and read along in the score that came with the LP.
My mom’s routine of checking the church newsletter or doing her own calculations *before* she checked the Dürr book is crucial here. Because there are three Sundays before Lent (Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima/Estomihi), and they override the Sundays after Epiphany. If Easter is late, there can be as many as six Sundays after Epiphany (though we only have surviving Bach cantatas for the first four of those), if Easter is early (as is the case this year) there are only two Sundays after Epiphany.
This means that my post about cantata 3 was still correct, my next two posts (about 72 & 73, and about the operatic cantata 81) were irrelevant for this year, I should have posted about cantata 144 on Sunday January 24 instead of last week, and in the two weeks between then and now I should have introduced you to the fantastic portrayal of rain and snow in cantata 18, followed by some of Bach’s most magnificent choral writing in cantata 23.
Whether you can forgive me or not, I suggest you keep reading this blog at least until next year, so I can tell you about cantata 18 and 23 then!
Wieneke Gorter, February 13, 2016