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Christ healing a leper, by Rembrandt van Rijn, circa 1650-1655. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

For this third Sunday after Epiphany, Bach wrote four cantatas: 73111, 72, and 156. The Bible story for this Sunday is about the miracle of Christ healing a leper. Last year I mentioned that I had a hard time finding the corresponding art for that story. My readers immediately came to the rescue, and pointed me to the two images featured in today’s post. Thank you again!

My favorite of all these cantatas is Cantata 73 Herr, wie du willt, so schick’s mit mir, especially in the 2013 recording by Herreweghe. Please find that recording here on Spotify. Soloists are Dorothee Mields (soprano), Thomas Hobbs (tenor), and Peter Kooij (bass). If you don’t have access to Spotify, you can find their 1990 recording here on YouTube. Soloists on this older recording are: Barbara Schlick (soprano), Howard Crook (tenor), and Peter Kooij (bass).

I had been planning to attend a live performance by Herreweghe of this cantata as well as another one of my favorites, Cantata 198, on January 29 in Brussels, but unfortunately the programming of that concert was changed to the Mass in B Minor. I completely understand the reasoning behind this, and I am absolutely thrilled for the musicians of Collegium Vocale Gent that they get to perform for an audience after all (until earlier this week, it looked as if all concerts in Belgium would be canceled until the end of this month), but I’m so sad about the cantatas!

Please find the German texts with English translations of Cantata 73 here, and the score here.

Jesus healing a leper, Mosaic, 12th century. Cathedral of the Assumption, Monreale, Sicily.

Especially the bass aria makes Herreweghe’s recording of this cantata tower above all others. It is so well done by Peter Kooij and the orchestra; it moves me every time I listen to it.

The best part for me is the illustration of “Leichenglocken” (death bells) by pizzicato strings and a somewhat “tolling” movement in the vocal part. Bach used this feature in many other cantatas, for example in (cantata number/movement number): 8/1, 95/5, 105/4, 127/3, 161/4, 198/4.

To know what else to listen for in this cantata, please read my post from 2016 . There I also explain how this cantata is connected to Cantata 72.

Wieneke Gorter, January 22, 2022.